Big 50 – Volume Six: Grandparents

Where to start with talking about my grandparents?  Well, I have to start with my paternal grandparents I guess.  I never really new them that well, I remember visiting with them and my Nanna lived with us for a bit, but she never really had much to do with me even while she lived with us (I was still in primary school) so I don’t really have many memories or anything to share.  Poppa died when I was very young, and Nanna not much later.  I do remember Poppa always calling me Katie for some reason, instead of Kathleen, which everyone called me until adulthood.

However my maternal grandparents have always been in my life.  We spent many weekends with them, and most school holidays.  Particularly while my parents were at work and school wasn’t there to take care of us during the day.  They’re about the only family members I still have contact with now too.

My Grandad is 83, and Grandma is 81 and they are both pretty sprightly.  They both have full lives with their own interests and hobbies, and ones that they share.

Grandma discovered in her 70’s that she loves art, and started taking art classes.  She’s a very talented painter, I have a couple of her pieces and several prints of works she’s done.  She’s also a very good photographer, but I think a lot of people try to bamboozle her with the technology and that puts her off.  At least with painting, there’s no technology – it’s about a surface and paint and her talent.  Plus she’s better than anyone she knows, though she’d dispute that.

Grandad is all about the local lawn bowls club.  He practically runs the bar up there, has done for a long time.  He was unwell last year and had to have some time off, and the folks that were letting him do all the work realised that a) he was working far harder than they had ever given him credit for and b) he’s in his bloody 80’s, he can’t maintain that pace!  I think they help him a lot more now.  He does all of that unpaid too.

I think I inherited my love of reading from Grandad.  Grandma loves to read too, but it’s Grandad that is voracious about it.  He will read ANYTHING.  When I used to still read romance novels, I would box them up and give them to Grandad when I was finished.  Well, except for the ones with really raunchy sex scenes, though he’s probably read a bunch of those anyway.  You wouldn’t believe the variety of stuff he’ll read.  But given the choice, he loves poetry, Westerns and Australian fiction.  I’ve given him a few beloved books as gifts over the years, and he’s always been happy to get books as gifts.

Grandma is an amazing cook.  She bakes really well, cakes and biscuits and slice, but it’s her regular cooking that I love.  Grandma can cook things like sausages or mince or other budget foods and turn them into something so hearty and delicious that all your troubles disappear while you’re tucking into one of her dinners.  She taught me to cook, and I have the same skill of being able to work around any problems that arise to turn anything into an edible and tasty dish.  The only time food can’t be rescued is if you burn it.  Grandma taught me that.  Recipes are only for guidelines, not to be stuck to rigidly.  She taught me to get the feel of ingredients, know their chemistry, what they do when combined, and how to change things by texture, taste or moisture.

Grandma has big, strong, gentle, warm hands.  I’ve inherited the “hot hands” that she has, though mine are smaller than hers, they’re also strong and gentle like hers.

Grandad has a stumpy thumb.  He cut it off in a circular saw down in his wood workshop.  He delights in telling small children it’s because he sucked his thumb as a kid.  He’s a total shit stirrer when he feels like it and kids always believe his stories.

My grandparents have taught me a lot about values.  They are both strong believers in respect, courtesy, fairness and justice, and believe all people are created equal.  When their peers had (and still have) racist, homophobic attitudes and beliefs, they are both accepting people.  Grandma is one of the few body positive people in my family, she has struggled with her weight her whole life too, and I get my shape from her (thanks for the big belly Grandma!)  She believes you know your own body better than anyone else and that health is individual to each and every person.  She’s very supportive of my work in fat acceptance and always encourages me.

They both have a wonderful sense of humour too.  Grandad has been known to just drop a one liner on the family that has everyone double taking as to whether or not he really said what we thought he said.  Grandad is hard of hearing so people think he isn’t listening a lot of the time, but every now and then he’ll make a comment that a) makes you realise he’s been listening all along and b) he’s just so quick witted.  Grandma however has a more bubbly, giggly sense of humour, and sees the ridiculous or silly in things all the time.  I think I’ve inherited a bit of both their style when it comes to humour.

All in all I’m pretty blessed with getting a set of grandparents who a) are still with me and b) so pretty awesome.

What about your grandparents?  Wanna tell me about them?


November 6, 2010. Big 50, family, Grandad, Grandma, grandparents.

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