Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Thing I Have Come to Know



One of the reasons I started this blog was because Eunice, my paternal grandmother was no longer with us and I had forgotten to ask her twenty million things. I was too absorbed in travelling the world, being young and discovering the amazing, to realise that a whole heap of history was about to pass me by. I guess I wanted to record snatches of the everyday ordinary as well as the significant, before they were buried under all the things that will happen tomorrow and the next day.

It’s my grandfather’s birthday today. I never knew him, so it’s strange that I always shed a tear or two on this day. I do because even though he died due to a dodgy heart forty three years ago, I know that today still prompts my maternal grandmother and my Mum to remember with shining eyes.

Recently, I came to hear the story of the marriage of my grandparents. Granny worked in the shoe department of Myer and my grandfather was one of two window dressers. Phil had his eye on Granny, but Granny had her eye on Gil. At almost seventeen, Granny was fending off boys left, right and centre and was fatigued with letting them down gently when she grew tired of them after two weeks.

It was at a ball, held at the Malvern Town Hall, when Granny first danced with Phil. Dressed in her debutant gown, with a boy she was “ready to get rid of” on one arm and another she was “ready to start with” on the other, she was barely in the door with her velvet evening coat off, before Phil claimed the first dance. Not long after that first dance, tired of dealing with dumped boyfriend devastation, Granny laid her cards on the table: “I won’t go steady with anyone until I’m at least eighteen.”

A few years later, in 1941, my grandfather was called up for National Service. After an initial three months training in the Australian Army he arrived home on four days leave before being posted who knew where, for who knew how long. It was a spontaneous decision to marry, involving begged permission from parents, a sprint to the bank before a 3pm close for money for an engagement ring, the lucky availability of a church, a frantic search for a borrowed wedding dress and a celebratory tea of vanilla slices supplied by country relatives who happened to be visiting. 24 hours later, my gorgeous Granny was a blushing bride. Part way because, her cousin, Dorothy, had stepped on her veil, pulled it off and revealed hair still slick with olive oil, which she hadn’t had time to wash.

That was Thursday. On Saturday my grandfather left to fight a war. He came home four years later. But he did come home and he and Granny had four children together and loved each other to the moon and back and were each other’s world and universe and stars and light before he died at 46. It’s a story that I hold close. Happy birthday Grandpa.

47 comments:

Michelle said...

A beautiful story, thank you for sharing

Little Ted Canvas said...

That's a really beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it. ANZAC day in itself makes me think a lot about our family history. So many people have shared some great stories today, I'm all inspired to get busy & find out more about our dear grandparents & all of those before them...

m.e (Cathie) said...

Tracey said...

thank you for sharing, my eyes are now shining too xx

Karin (the Mrs.) said...

That's such a touching story.

Posie Patchwork said...

Gorgeous story beginning to end. Can i assure you it still happens today, my husband is a soldier serving overseas this ANZAC day in a scary war zone & while our marriage wasn't rushed (dating 3 years, but i was a tiny teenager) & now married for 13 with our alloted 4 children . . . before each deployment there are still many speedy marriages. I don't think everyone has quite the passionate romance of old, but we sure do, i have lived my entire adult life an Army wife of 4 wars & live on constant honeymoon when my handsome soldier is home. Here here to your Grandparents!! Love Posie

Loz and Dinny said...

As you know, I love a gorgeous grandparent story - this one made me all smiley teary - thank you for sharing. Here's to love to the moon and back x

Cute as Buttons said...

My eyes are shining, too. What a gorgeous love story. Don't we all want to be someone's world and universe and stars and light? Such a wonderful way to finish the day. Thanks! Lisa x

Sarah Jane said...

This my eyes leak a little. Beautiful. Thank you. xo

One Flew Over said...

A beautiful and touching story Tan x

Nikki said...

Yup! I'm a bit teary here, too.

Tas said...

Tears here too. A lovely happy ever after story. We need to treasure such stories and keep them alive.

handmadehappiness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
handmadehappiness said...

you have left a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye such a lovely story thanx so much for sharing this.... it just shows you that even leaving so young he left lot's of happiness and love.... x
my dad's 3rd anniversary on the 1st of may and i hope i feel the love and happiness you express here on that day you truly have struck a cord with me thank you xx

Kylie said...

How beautiful. Thanks for sharing their story Tania... just loved it. Kx

Mookah said...

A very touching story indeed.....

ecoMILF said...

beautiful story, there's a tear in my eye. xo m.

Chicken Willow said...

Lovely story, thanks for sharing. Happy Birthday to your Grandpa. I love family history and finding out personal stories is the best part, to really get a feel for what kind of people they were. I never met one of my Grandfathers either and have lately been really sad about it. x

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

A lovely story ! Sometimes we forget that the elderly were young , starry-eyed and romantic too .

sean the prawn said...

so important to tell these stories..the memories of our elders need to live on..it keeps our culture alive.

Katy said...

What a stunning story....such a beautiful family story to pass down x

Robby said...

What a great post, and a beautiful story.
<3

Sarah said...

Truly beautiful story. It is fascinating hearing and discovering tales from our ancestors isn't it? x

sylviesgarden said...

How beautiful! That really is true love.
Thank you for sharing.
x

Madeline said...

What a beautiful story! Maybe it's just because I'm pregnant, but I got a little misty eyed reading it.

bubbachenille said...

I love this, thanks for sharing and lighting up my day.

Buttons by Lou Lou said...

wow. so many things in there. lovely romance, so much time apart, dying so young... wow.

teddybearswednesday said...

A beautiful story, thank you for sharing Tania.

crzylady said...

wonderful to hear :) and happy birthday to your grandpa

Andi said...

Sniff!

Elizabeth said...

That's a lovely story Tania - stories like that should be documented for future generations...
My husband's parents were married in very similar circumstances...in fact my Mother in Law also worked in Myer, she ran the Cyclax Salon there...you have prompted me to make notes of family history for my Grandchildren.

katiecrackernuts said...

Great story. I have not such a clear recollection of my nana and pop's story, but have asked them, and distinctly recall them nattering and fighting and swatting each other - all in good humour - as they tried to each tell me their own versions. They were so sidetracked by the end, I never did get a coherent story, but loved that I asked and they were both alive to tell me. My nana doesn't like just telling me her story ... but tells me other things when I ask. It's fluid though. People tell me the story keeps changing.

Christina said...

Your Grandparents beautiful story brought tears to my eyes. What a leap of faith, what a commitment, what a loss.
xx

sue said...

What a beautiful story of true love! I had a tear in my eye reading that from happiness. They usually say that the man knows straight away when he has met the right one dont they!

Frog, Goose and Bear said...

Beautiful story - thank you for sharing. I once did our family history (on my mothers side) Traced it back as far as I could go and gathered stories while I went and it was one of the best things I ever did. Wonderful to be able to know a little of our own history even when we didn't know the people personally, but they have all helped shape, in a small way, who we are.

ingrid said...

Thank s for sharing such a wonderful story.
Happy birthday grandpa.

Fer said...

Beautiful Tania. :)

june at noon said...

Beautifully told, Tania. Such special stories to pass on.

heather said...

thanks for the cry just before bed. seriously.. i love to cry. that is such a beautiful, beautiful love story. your granny just went for it completely when she felt it! that's how i hope to be in my life in so many ways. but i do feel i did the same with david. i just went for it!!! when is your birthday??

Mel said...

oh far out Tania, I wasn't at all prepared for such a beautiful and moving story. How fitting that his birthday was on Anzac day :) And what a fantastic story to pass on the your kids one day. xx

Lauren said...

What a beautiful story, Tanya and fantastic memories. My grandmother wrote her story down in her last years and it is so precious to us. Our favourite thing is to match up photos to her words. So special. I wish I'd known my maternal grandmother and heard her stories...

beck said...

So beautifully written Tania, I really loved this post. How special your grandparents story is, and how gratifying to know you come from this love story too. Thanks for sharing some of your family, some of your history with us xo

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing such a lovely story Tarn! Wishing you a happy birthday also.
Love from Jen xo

elly bee said...

won't you love it when in about 80 years your grand child tells your story of how you and grand dad met and that you travelled half of the world for weekend to get his focus right again and that you married finally in London in a red bus and lived happily together for your whole long life long? For your b'day and your grand dad I wish your grandchildren this story to be told!
love eb

Duyvken said...

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.

Corrie said...

awwwww such a lovely sweet story! but he died so young .............

Corrie:)

Sandrine said...

Beautiful story ,beautifully written. XX