Her house smelled of roast dinners. Every time I cook pork or stew apples, I’m taken back twenty years: running around the farm with my cousins while waiting to eat.
There were always the old, colourful building blocks out in the lounge room to play with. We would strive to build the biggest pyramid. I remember being quite young and building a zoo – or was it a farm? – with her for the toy animals to reside in.
“Goodness gracious grandma said” and “not bad for an old bird”.
“Look to the right, look to the left, never get run over!” she would sing whenever we crossed a road.
Chocolate frogs after church on Sunday.
Fixing farm fences with dad, and watching her ride up to deliver (the best) fresh scones – on her quad bike.
Playing hide and seek around her garden and in her house. Did she get stuck in the hallway cupboard once?
Walking up the hill to feed the poddy calves together.
There were always biscuits in her pantry and lemonade in her fridge.
Roses in her garden.
She made the best cheese toasties.
Driving in the rather old car, with the hot leather seats. She had mints in there.
Thursday was shopping day.
Bunches of flowers delivered personally for each birthday.
“If you wear black to my funeral, I’ll come back and haunt you!”
Sponge cakes. Fruit cakes. Chocolate cakes.
Mad hatters tea parties for her birthday; with the great aunts and so many people who seemed to know me but I could never remember who they were.
Her heavy involvement supervising the moving of her cows. Her abrupt instructions to me as I drove her from place to place, stopping cows from going down a driveway or along a road they shouldn’t.
A sharp wit.
The quiet chuckles.
How (in later years) she seemed to be completely uninvolved in the conversation around her, only to interject something very insightful.
Tales of all the accidents she had over the years; believing she was the strongest woman alive.
The freedom of her farm. The pleasure in her stories. The comfort of her company.
* * *
She is my inspiration for a life lived well; my role model as a strong, independent woman. I can only aspire to be as sharp in wit and as sound in mind, to age as gracefully as she did.
Here’s to you, you old bird. Don’t be causing too much trouble now.
I miss you, Skiet.