In any persons life there will be a handful of people who truly nurture and help to guide us along our life paths and shape us into the best person we can be.
I have been very fortunate to have had wonderful role models in my own life and am very proud that I come from a heritage of strong characters.
Of these my Maternal Grandparents figure highly.
In my earliest childhood, my Grandparent's farm was a wonderland and although I have clear memories of being chased around the yard on my chubby little legs by turkeys there is also a colourful patchwork of happier moments that I can draw upon too.
Waking to a warm fire in the kitchen hearth on their farm.
Churning butter from the milk we'd gathered from the dairy cow.
Steam coming from my mouth and nose as we climbed the hills to collect mushrooms which Grandfather Bob considered an 'exotic' thing to eat!
Rolling out biscuit dough with a huge old wooden pin and relishing the sweet warmth emanating from the oven. Then of course eating the delights that had been made, my Grandmother was an award winning biscuit and slice baker and there was always something delicious kept in the tins in her pantry.
Spending lots of time in the garden gathering blooms, planting and picking vegetables, harvesting fruit and of course inhaling deeply. My love of gardens and beautiful flowers was born here. Arranging the gathered flowers in a variety of special vessels - again my Grandmother won many prizes in the local show and beyond for her flower arranging skills.
Going to the hen house in the late afternoon to see how many 'treasures' had been left for us. Eating these golden 'googy eggs' with buttery toast soldiers - mmmmm!
Exploring the treasures kept in 'the shed' and the various display cabinets inside their home - learning about the trophies and pennants that were stored within. My Grandparents were keen sportspeople and played well into their 90's, they also won prizes for their wheat crops and for various assorted other skills such as fine neeedlework, baking, knitting, flowers...the list goes on. Grandmother won several prizes at the Sydney Royal Easter show. As you can tell I am truly proud.
But it wasn't all about prizes they were very connected to their community involved in various societies and organisations in their little town of Grenfell. They worked actively to provide 'Meals on Wheels' to people several decades younger than them, were very busy with charitable work for their church and for many years Grandfather was the curator of the local historical society.
Grandmother gave and nurtured within me a love of words. We used to play scrabble together even when I was little and I was always amazed at her huge knowledge of vocabulary as she completed the daily newspaper crossword.
Visiting their home was always a source of great excitement [especially when we moved over a thousand kilometers away to live in Queensland]. I will always remember the thrill of sitting in the back seat of the car as we made our way down the lane that lead to their home in town and the joy of seeing them and jumping out of the car to give them the first of many hugs.
They grew a huge rosemary bush outside the back door and Grandmother Verlie would often dry her tea towels on it. This was also the place where we parked our car and we would inadvertently rub against it when scooting past, so the smell of rosemary will be forever intermingled with my Grandparents.
They had a great habit of having a rest in the middle of the day. In addition to their healthy eating, limited intake of alcohol, regular exercise, myriad interests and connection to their community I believe that this was one of the contributors to their long and healthy lives [both exceeding well over a century of full lives].
At the end of the day [after an early meal] they would retire to the lounge to enjoy what Grandmother referred to as their 'sessions' and you & I would call TV viewing. Grandmother would sit under a tall lamp and either knit, crochet or needlework and Grandfather Bob had a great recliner chair which I loved to snuggle up in with him. After an hour the habit was for Grandfather to go and get a piece of fruit [they lived in a wonderful fruit producing area] and I loved to share the apple snakes [skins] which he peeled with a well worn paring knife. Sometimes he would also bring in the old orange 'sweets' barrel and the kids would eagerly dive our hands in to pick out a treat....or two.
Once it was time for bed I would scoot off, clean my teeth and then dive under the big feather quilt that I do believe may have been as old as Methuselah himself. The sleeps I had in that bed were sound with lots of contented dreaming.
Our visits were never long enough and I would often sob as we drove away back down that little country lane.
Very shortly I will be making my way back down that lane and along many others in their little town as I return to pay my final tribute to my Grandmother Verlie. You see she passed away peacefully in her sleep last night, bound finally to reunite with my beloved Grandfather Bob.
Mixed emotions course through me but overwhelmingly I am grateful.
Grateful for a wonderful role model.
Grateful that she had my gorgeous Mother and that I share her genes.
Grateful that she lived a long and fulfilled life.
Grateful that I have such treasured memories.
Grateful for setting me on my wonderful life path.
Vale Verlie Eve - you are a much beloved and treasured person in my life.