My Grandma

8 August, 2007 at 9:39 pm | Posted in General Stuff | 1 Comment

As I have mentioned before in my blog, my Grandma has been quite ill, and she passed away on the 27th July, in Melbourne. She went peacefully, and with no pain, and that, my friends, is very important.

I went to Melbourne to offer what support I could (and to receive it, too, truth be told), and felt something I have not felt before.

A part of the family.

You see, I was a “step” child, someone not of the blood of the Brown family; someone perpetually “less” than the other members of the Brown clan.

And during my time in Melbourne, I realised, finally, who was responsible for that feeling.

Me.

I was the person who alienated myself, I was the reason I didn’t feel like I fit in.

During the last two weeks, I have felt more love and respect from this family than I have felt in the previous 30 years as a “member” of the family. I’m not saying they didn’t love me before- I just wouldn’t allow myself to accept their love.

Grandma Brown always had a place for me, both as a school child on holidays, or as a young adult, learning his way in the world. And I have done some pretty horrible things to her, my uncles, and others in the family.

Yet they always forgave (against their better judgement sometimes, I am sure).

And all this was realised in the lead-up to, and during Grandma’s funeral. Some of my cousins I haven’t seen in over twenty years; the rest, maybe seven or eight years since the last contact.

Yet we all resumed our relationships as if only a few months had passed. I know Phillip, Warrick and Taryn and I had always gotten along so well as children; you can imagine things would have been difficult – my last sight of Taryn, she was in her early teens. Now, she is a young woman of 25, well on her way to a life in her own right. Another cousin, Sharon, had no idea who I was (I had been out shopping with my mother, and when we got home, Sharon was sitting at the kitchen bench- I said hello to her, and (I shit you not) thirty seconds later, she asked my step-dad “How is Grant? I haven’t seen him for years!”. I just looked at her for a couple of seconds, and said “I’m fine, thanks, how are you”. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone so embarrassed. Admittedly, I am twenty years older, and fifty kilo’s heavier, and now sport a full beard, so her inability to recognise me is to be excused).

We reminisced, and reminisced.

I caught up with Sharon’s brother, James, whom I (also) hadn’t seen in twenty years. We got along quite well, with promises to catch up sometime in Sydney (where he and Sharon, and their parents, Brian and Vivienne, live).

Plenty more cousins to catch up with, and their children, in some cases, and not one of them treated me as anything other that a full member of the Brown family.

Grandma’s funeral in Melbourne was beautiful. Emotions ran high (to be expected), and some eulogies were delivered with long pauses, as speakers tried to deal with their emotions. Yet all finished, and we portrayed Grandma as who, and what, she was to us.

A hero.

A hard working, committed soul, who NEVER stopped, and always did the little bit extra.

The Melbourne funeral was followed by a trip to Colignan, near Mildura, in Victoria’s North Western area (known as “The Mallee”) where she lived her life on the farm. A memorial service was held in the local church, with two ministers conducting the service; neither of them could stand being left out of the honouring of such a local legend. A wake was held in the local bowling club, of which Grandma was a well respected member.

The CWA (Country Women’s Association) put on a spread the likes of which you have never seen, and people talked about Grandma for a long, long time. All the things she had done, all the help she gave to others, and the respect that was earned by actions instead of words and wishes.

The Brown family also had their own personal celebrations and ceremonies; we lit tealight candles, and sent them down the Murray River, along with the flowers and petals from the funeral in Melbourne. Some of my other cousins, Debbie, Susan, Michelle (who are all excellent singers) suggested we sing Amazing Grace, which we all did, the voices ringing out across the Mighty Murray, the river of Grandma’s life.

We all look forward to the next gathering of the Brown family, and we have all promised that it will take place in happier circumstances than this.

I can’t wait.

R.I.P. Grandma

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