John Marsden Writing Topic #371
Write about your grandparents**
My Nan was my father’s mother and was the grandparent I was closest to, she was the first grandparent to die and the youngest grandparent both in the context of the year she was born and how old she was when she died. She use to pick me up from primary school until I was about eight as mum and dad had to work, every time she asked me what I got up to during my day, I’d say “all sorts of things” and it would annoy her because I was being vague. On our way home, she would drive through a back street past a yellow and pink house. She would say “there’s my yellow house!” I would say “there’s my pink house!” I rarely saw her fingernails as she is use to bite them and wore micropore-like bandages around the ends of her fingers. She smoked heavily and as a kid I would buy her no smoking magnets in a naïve attempt to get her to quit. Her smoking was the reason why she was diagnosed with lung cancer only a few weeks before Christmas 2002. I saw the effects of chemotherapy up close and personal which made me fear of losing her to the point where I would constantly check that she was still breathing when she slept. I really did lose my innocence during that time. She quickly went into remission and was healthy for quite a while, even having a hip replacement, however she was diagnosed with cancer again around Easter 2004. She slowly and painfully deteriorated over four months before passing away. The last time I saw her was the day before she died on August 1st 2004, she looked up at me and said “who’s she?” which broke my heart. She passed away on the morning of August 2nd 2004 at the age of 67 with her children by her side. My father told me that the sun shone on her head as she passed.
My Nanna was my mother’s mother and was the second grandparent to die, only five months after my Nan. I remember that she had brown curly hair which never greyed and she constantly had her hand on her back. She constantly provided afternoon tea for myself, my brother and my cousins every Sunday. I also remember her giving me $5 when my brother and two cousins had their communion as no-one paid attention to me that day. My Nanna was diagnosed with a tumour on her pituitary gland the year I was born and also had Type 2 Diabetes so she wasn’t very well. My mother told me that her afternoon teas consisted of cakes and treats she made herself and when she was younger she made dresses, did the book keeping for her and my Pop’s farm and businesses, as well as helped out with the Voluntary Fire Brigade in their town. My older cousins were closer to her than I was, so much so that one cousin named her daughter after her and another cousin had my Nanna’s name as his daughter’s middle name. I remember being unwell before she died, living in a nursing home out of town and being admitted to hospital just after Christmas 2004. She died suddenly on January 12th 2005 at the age of 77, I was shocked by it and I didn’t know how she died. I found out years later that the dormant tumour on her pituitary gland started to spread and severed a major blood vessel on the brain. I didn’t cry at her funeral, not because I wasn’t sad but because my mother was distraught and I was being strong for her.
My Pop was my mother’s father and was the last grandparent to die. I remember he always wore green work wear and a brown hat and constantly worked in his self-built sheds both with tools and tractors. Myself, my brother and my cousins would constantly hang around him and sometimes go for ride in the tractors. He had a great sense of humour, deeply loved my Nanna, all of us. He had a lot of health problems in his later years which included having to have a quadruple bypass only months before my Nanna died, bowel cancer and a major stroke. He passed away on June 14th 2012 at the age of 84. My mother told me that when she read his death notice in the newspaper she choked up, my father hugged her and told her, “you’re an orphan like me now.”
Pop Loveday was my father’s father and the third grandparent to die. I didn’t have much of a relationship with him, him and my father as well as the rest of the Loveday family were estranged from him due to issues my father’s past. The first time I remember meeting him was when I was 13 and my father was in the hospital being treated for kidney stones. I smiled and stayed quiet because I didn’t know what else to do, I’ve never forgotten my father calling out to him as he left for some unknown reason. A couple of years later he became a part of my life again as my father invited him into his own life, I never found out the reason why. My brother was a lot closer to him than I was. I remember he smoked heavily, had a head of thick black-ish hair and was a little shorter than most men. I was told that his parents were born in England and he was a devout Catholic. I remember he smoked and drank heavily. He had a fall a few months before his death, however he ended up dying of a stroke on April 12th 2011 (I’m not too sure of the exact day, but I remember it was in April 2011) at the age of 78. He constantly said “I am what I am” which was placed on his grave stone.
I do wonder from time to time what my grandparents would think of me now as an adult.
**Reference: Marsden, J 1998, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan, Australia.