Last week my grandparents celebrated their wedding anniversary. 60 years ago they were wed, in a little church in Hampton. Nana wore a white velvet dress with floral headband and veil, and my grandpa (whom we call “Roo”) wore a blue suit and a smile. Since then they’ve filled their lives with love and laughter, travel and home, tradition and adventure. They’ve had children, their children have had children, and their children’s children have had children. I feel blessed to be giving them another great grandchild this year. The fact that our little one will receive great grandparent snuggles is sincerely special.
When I think of my grandparents, a few distinct memories come to mind. Of campervan trips and Bing Crosby, of multigrain toast with smooth Kraft peanut butter and fruit pillows, of Road To… movies and Adam West as Batman, of blue tiles in their old Dingley home and Roo chasing us down the hall with “the CLAW!!” (his hand), of family KFC takeout nights and dinners of Kai Si Ming, of me taking sips of Nana’s mango banana nectar from the side fridge (perfectly tucked away for a sneaky little Heidi to manage her mischief) and little jubes from the lolly jar, of visiting them at their market stalls and marvelling at Nana’s homemade cards and pin cushions, of nicknames like “Mr Mcgillicuddy (my older brother), “Gorgonzola” (my younger brother), and “Heidle McDee” (me). My grandparents were present and warm and generous with their children’s children. They’re like this with all of their loved ones. To be in their life is a blessed thing.
Oh, I adore hearing tales of my grandparents growing up. Nana on her parents’ dairy farm on Wickham road, Moorabbin, and Roo as a cheeky kid at school in Hampton. Nana’s family had a horse and jinker and after school, if the bread man had come, they would scoop fresh cream onto warm slices of soft white bread with jam. Though Nana Brown sometimes needed a good slosh of gasoline to light their hearth, she knew that oven back to front and could manipulate perfect roly poly cakes. My grandfather was in the car radio business, and has a thing for, you guessed it, cars and radios. I’ll always have a soft spot for jaguars because of him.
Every now and then I’ll ask my grandparents what life was like when they started their family in 1956. Family and history are two of my favourite things and I can hear their stories and devour their pictures for hours. I’ve driven around to two of their houses in Moorabbin, and though they’ve changed, I can picture the little family of five in those homes. I can see my mum arguing to wear nail polish and buy a pair of jeans (it was the 70’s, man). I can see my Uncle racing home to tell on my mum for taking drugs…he had found a stash in her bag. Though they weren’t drugs, they were tampons. I can see Cindy, their long-haired dachshund, who encouraged my Aunty’s love of animals. I can see the whole family sitting around watching television, and, as happened some evenings, an exchange of glances for a sudden mutual craving for one thing: burgers! Roo would drive down to the local burger joint to collect five burgers, no tomato for Nana, please. Though they would always forget and put tomato in anyway. I won’t ever be able to recreate those burgers, but that’s ok. The thought is more delicious.
On the weekend we celebrated the love these two special, funny, sweet people have and the life they’ve created. My beautiful cousin and her son flew down from Townsville to surprise our grandparents, and together, with dear friends and family, we toasted Dorothy and Jack. There were no burgers or roly poly cakes, but we did have cheese, sandwiches, galettes with sour cream pastry, woodfired pizza, apple cake, fruit and chestnut cream tarts and a carrot cake. And a letter from the Queen.