The women in my family are the stayers. Reflecting on the lives of my grandparents, through my grief of saying a final goodbye to a familial generation, I understand that they were my teachers and confidants, my elders, who shared their lives without a hindrance of annoyance or inconvenience.
Dad is one of 11 kids and Mum is one of 9. Maybe it’s obvious that my grandmas were both indebted to their faith in God. Christianity was their stronghold, the value system that they returned to, to find strength in themselves and their families.
My maternal grandma passed away recently, in her mid 90’s and 3 years before that, my paternal grandma, Oma, died . They outlived their partners by decades and were both healthy and independent until their last 1-2 years of life, where they lived in aged care.
Reflection comes easy, but not without emotional intensity, as I remember spending volumes of time with my grandparents as I grew up. My Oma lived with us, under us or behind us throughout my life. Her proximity allowed for seamless visits, continuous conversations and ultimately a getaway from my own home, a place to find comfort and companionship.
As a child I spent many weeks staying with my maternal grandparents on their 10-acre flower farm, often in partnership with my uncle, who was my age (yes … my mum had a brother 20 years her junior!). As well as learning about flowers and plants and, more broadly, nature, there simple living abode was a perfect lesson in minimalism and acceptance. They lived a meaningful life in simple surrounds in a weatherboard house that was built in the 40’s, with very few modern conveniences. They helped me appreciate the relative luxuries we had in our house growing up like access to water mains, central heating and space, which of course today, I can’t imagine living without.
Both grandma and oma were terrific examples of women who had strong faith and demonstrated this by their daily rituals and devotion. They showed compassion and love for all, were patient and kind, and at the same time were strong and independent. I still strive to emulate them in many ways. They both had a quiet confidence and comfort that I think came from many years of practicing their faith and acknowledging a higher being, something I wish I could access in their absence but life is crazy and the struggle to connect with an ephemeral source feels like a few generations away.
- Mark's story as told to Nat Power
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