My Nanna was born on the day England, France and Russia declared war on Germany in 1914.
In 1918 as a kid, she got The Flu and was left helpless presumed to die. Her Old Man wrapped her in brown paper with a mustard poultice, tipped a bottle of brandy all over her, and nestled her among some house bricks that had been warmed on the combustion stove. Life was tougher then and I wouldn’t be typing this if she didn’t survive.
Her father saw action in both wars and was in France in the worst of it, though I’m not 100% sure where he was in WWII.
In between the wars they got through the depression years, but only just. They were rendered homeless several times and they near starved to death right here in Melbourne.
After the depression, she was just a pretty teenager and the fella she would eventually marry was a circus trick rider, boxer, cattle drover, cane cutter, and a builder.
That fella was struck by her looks and charm and apparently stated that one day he was gonna come back and marry that pretty kid. Ten years passed and that is exactly what happened. Actually, two brothers of the same trades came back and married 2 sisters.
She worked for Myer and was deeply religious.
He built things and read every book in the local library.
The rest is history as they say and, of course, they’re all gone now.
Old Mac left this coil early and I was just a kid. I do remember him scraping out apples from off the tree with a teaspoon and him handing the spoonful to me on a sunny day. I was standing one-legged on the pole by the front gate, and we just ate apples in the sun and chatted with everybody walking by. He lost a kidney getting kicked at a rodeo in his youth, and riddled with cancer, he just got out of bed one day and walked right under a High St tram.
Mrs Mac went on and on until about 2008 and I swear she never stopped talking that whole time even to draw breath. Until the end when she stopped talking and decided to take nothing by mouth. Shortly after that, her kidneys failed and she is still sleeping now.
I missed her funeral because I had to choose between taking my kids to Brisbane for the Brass Band Nationals, and her burial. Still a bit ashamed to this day, I’d wager still she would have approved of my choice. I can almost hear her voice in my head, “Wish in one hand and spit in t’other … see what comes true first”
That woman was the source of endless mirth among my siblings and cousins for the things she said.
Mostly one-liners or biblical quotes, she’d just look at you over her teacup with a knowing eye waiting for you to fill in the blanks.
To catch up.
To read between the lines.
Nan had a wisdom that only Nanna’s have and an understanding that can only be gleaned from living a life with no room for hubris. Wiser than anybody else I ever met, she would switch between idiom and aphorism as fancy took her.
I owe my own smart-mouth to her… and if you reckon I’m bad, you should tangle with my sister.
She’ll wreck your worldview before noon and smile murderously while you struggle for breath dying from laugher.
If Nan was still here, I’m certain she would have said of this current Cov-idiocy that, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” or, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Maybe a few minutes later I hope, she might have said in a lower tone, “This too shall pass.”
But you know what? … I’m not so sure she would have.
We have become soft, pliant, timorous, and child-like. And look what happened. We have now become beholden to a bunch of unaccountable simpletons, whose fevered policy incantations they pretend are efficacious. Assuming, of course, they don’t have malintent.
But the real problem is worse than that. The idiotic spells our ‘rulers’ cast are perfectly suited to the appetites of a pampered anti-resilient population. Look around and listen to them. Apparently, we are collectively and literally gagging for it.
People these days worry about every invisible boogie-man that may harm them, though probably won’t – like imperceptible global temperature rises, life without sunblock, a Flu that barely has a mortality rate, and mean tweets.
All the time we walk dumb and obedient into a draconian techno-fascist future. Driven by self-interested bastards that are absolutely 100% sure about why your compliance is necessary.
It doesn’t really look all that different to the last centuries crises, except this time they have smiley-face emojis; they still demand compliance at the point of a gun.
Nan would probably have quipped, “The whole world is mad except me, and thee … and I’m not even so sure about thee.” … or, “only the living can hurt you, not spirits.”
I can hear Nan’s bones rattling right now.