3 years on

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's hard to believe that it's been 3 years since Nanny passed away. In some ways it feels like just last week, and sometimes it feels like I haven't seen her for much longer. We still miss her and keep her memory alive by using "Nanny-isms", most commonly when we say "just for fun" which was her response to our questions of "why did you cook this/buy this/do this?"

I stumbled across the draft of the tribute I wrote for Nanny's funeral the other day. I ended up just using it as a bit of a guide, and improvised the last part, and it was really nice finding it and reading over it again.

Nanny was an extraordinary woman with the simplest of pleasures. She lived for her family. Anyone who spent 5 minutes with her would know that, and anyone who spent half an hour with her, would become a part of that family. If you ever came to visit for a Sunday lunch, she would ask after you the next few weeks and ask when we would be bringing you back again.

When you grow up with an extraordinary person like Nanny in your life, that extraordinary becomes your ordinary. It often took outsiders to remind me what a special woman Nanny was. People would gush over her crispy potatoes, chicken, turkey and sausage, English salad, cucumbers, borsch, crumbed stead and pork, barramundi on Fridays, veges, jelly, ice cream and custard; her 10 layer Napolean and 6 layer walnut cakes, her apple pies, her banana cake, and of course, her pierogi, yet they were weekly staples for us at Sunday lunch.

Nanny didn’t try to be extraordinary. She just was. But she wasn’t all butter, sugar and cream. She had a quirky streak to her that brought a smile to our faces so often. “Come here, I shmack you” she would say. We realised in the last 5 years or so that getting a Nanny shmack was to be celebrated, as it meant she had missed you and she loved you very much.

She could also lay on the guilt like the thick layer of cream on top of her walnut cake.

Why you leave so soon?” she would say.
When you coming back?
and one I’ve heard a lot in the last few years
Why you must live in Victoria? When you coming home to Brisbane?

This was just another way she let us know she loved us. Though she could never understand why someone would choose to leave their family, when she had no choice to leave her own all those years ago, she always supported us and welcomed us like rock stars whenever we came to visit.

Nanny gave so much of herself to us, and I know everyone here has been touched by her generosity and kindness in many ways. I think we are all better people for knowing her, and I think a great way to honour her memory is to eat creamy cakes, drink good vodka, always cherish our family, and learn to make pierogi, just like Nanny made it.

To be honest, there isn't a great deal of sadness around her passing, as she lead such an amazing life. But it breaks my heart how this little guy brought her so much joy:

Yet she doesn't get to see him like this:

And the fact that she never got to meet our little girl. That hurts a lot. But I'm sure she's up there, looking down on us all, and gushing over the cuteness as much as we are.

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