Friday, August 19, 2011

Precious Gifts From My Grandpa

A highlight of my week is visiting my gorgeous Grandparents every Thursday.

At 90 and 93 years old, they are in remarkable health for their age and still live in their original family home they built with their own hands. They have 4 children, 12 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren scattered around the world.  This year they will celebrate their 70th Wedding Anniversary.

I have never lived around the corner from any extended family so when we moved to Sydney last year I jumped at the chance to live close to these very special people and to the area which held so many fond childhood memories for me.

I love spending time with them chatting about our family history, what their thoughts and feeling are on certain issues and just getting to know them better. They delight in seeing my 4 children too (although I do get heart palpitations watching the boys tear around their lounge room which is home to an impressive collection of Lladro Porcelain Figurines and Wedgewood Jasperware. The swimming pool from the 50’s remains unfenced too, another heart stopper but I’m digressing as usual…)

Growing up, we lived almost 2 hours away but we saw them frequently. They often travelled down to our place to watch us play sports and receive awards at school assemblies. But I loved visiting their home the most. All I need is the slightest whiff of Wisteria to enter my nostrils and I’m transported back to their backyard where I am swimming naked in their pool, feeding the Rosella’s in front of the kitchen, sipping lemonade from the coloured anodized aluminium picnic cups or looking through the photo albums they meticulously kept. I loved the little flower posies my grandmother used to give me as we left our visits – Cammelias, Roses, Pansies, Daisies, Dahlias all wrapped in little paper doilies with foil covering their stems. They would call out “toodle-pip!” as we’d leave their long driveway for the long trip home.

It was from my Grandmother that I learned to knit and the gift of letter writing. I started writing letters to her regularly when I was 6, a tradition that continued for the next 28 years. Regardless of where I was in the world and what was happening in my life, the letters were a constant. I remember being sad when we moved here because there would be no need to exchange letters or e-mails anymore but we actually still do it, even though they live only 5 minutes away!

My earliest memory of Grandpa was sitting on his knee asking him how old he was and him answering, “Clickety Click sixty six”. I was 5. He enjoyed making pottery and I remember him making wonderful pumpkins and receiving pottery as birthday gifts in the form of quirky snails and piggy banks.

My grandparents have always been there for me and when my own family was ripped apart following the divorce of my parents and as other family dramas unfolded over those years, the one constant in my life was the love of these 2 special people.

So yesterday when I went to visit them things were different. The first thing I saw when I walked in was all of Grandpa’s pottery laid out on the dining table. He wanted me to choose some items. Of course at 93 I knew I had to cherish every moment left with them. But I just couldn’t cope with the fact that my Grandpa was aware of his own mortality and had made the deliberate decision to start preparing and part with his treasured possessions. I had to hold back the tears. Which I did. Until I got to the car and I then I completely lost it.

I know I am so fortunate to be able to receive this way. And what a beautiful thing. To be able to see the people you love enjoying your treasured pieces before you pass and to know how happy they are to receive them. It is something that I hope to be in a position to do as I age.

I will look at these pieces everyday and think of the hands that made them. The same hands that fought overseas in World War 2 for the freedom my family and I get to enjoy today. The same hands that pulled mattresses over the windows of the maternity wards to protect the women in labour when the Japanese submarines arrived in Sydney Harbour. And the same hands that embrace me whenever I visit on Thursdays. Yes, I will treasure these pieces forever. Thank you Grandpa!

This week I am grateful for my Grandparents. Has anyone else received precious gifts from their loved ones before they passed away and how did it make you feel? What are you grateful for this week?

I'm linking up with Maxabella's Weekend Grateful Post for the first time this week.


  1. What a bittersweet day it must've been. Such special treasures but it's never nice thinking that people we love won't be around forever. I was never given anything by loved ones but have bits and pieces of theirs. The memories are so special.

  2. I don't know whether these little tears that have sprung up in me are sad tears or joyous tears. I loved this post and the relationship you have with your grandparents very much. You are so lucky that they have lived so long so that your own children can experience how delightful they are. 70 years of marriage, huh? That's just amazing.

    You will cherish those pieces, Mel and your own children after that. A loving legacy indeed. x

  3. That is such a wonderful post you've shared. They sound like amazing people and you a very special grandchild. Made me teary reading your post. Hoping you'll all be opening the letter from the queen (or king!) in another few years when they become centarians. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I am grateful for your beautiful post!

    As, I'm sure your grandparents are grateful for such a wonderful granddaughter and your children will be for showing them through your actions how blessed they are.

  5. Hi Mel, happened across your Blog quite by accident. What a lovely post! My granddad also fought in WW2 - he died of cancer when I was sixteen. We had my nan for a lot longer. She died thirteen years ago when my children were in their pre-teens. Nan did not want to leave her possessions to us in a will - she divided up all her special things between her girls and grandchildren before she went into frail care. It is so special to receive these gifts from the living - these gifts are amongst my most prized possessions and I hope to pass them to my children (no grandchildren yet) in the same way. Thanks for sharing this story!