Until we meet again…

31 Jan

Well I’ve heard it said that it is impossible to be sure of anything but death and taxes. Therefore it would seem inevitable that I come to a time in my life where my grandparents have all made the transition from this life to the next.

This week, on Australia Day, this world lost another Aussie. My Nan, Beryl Alicia George, left earth’s pain for heavens glory. Aged 93 and 9 days, Nan’s tired body finally gave up. The last years of her life were spent in the clutches of Alzheimer’s with moments of seeming clarity, amongst many more moments of haze. I always hope that the experience of those with Alzheimer’s is better than the family’s experience. For family it can be hard to be an unrecognised face to someone who should know you so well… to be unable to interact with someone who you’ve spent your life communicating with… I can’t claim to have experienced this with Nan as it has been some years since I saw her, due mainly to the 2000km that separated us. However, Dad and his brothers and sisters often made the trip to see her in Keith, a small town in country South Australia. I’d always ask how she was when I heard they had gone to visit, and the response fluctuated between “pretty good” and “not so good” – the latter being more common in recent trips. But Nan was a fighter, and pretty determined and it sure can’t be said that she didn’t give up without a fight. My Grandpop died in 1984 so she has been the only grandparent on my Dad’s side for pretty much as long as I can remember.

My Nan - with my Dad (his Mum) - taken a few years ago.

My Nan – with my Dad (his Mum) – taken a few years ago.

As my cousin, who is speaking on behalf of the grandchildren at Nan’s funeral on Monday, asked for our memories of Nan I started to think about memories. I have to admit I found it difficult – suddenly my whole childhood seemed to be devoid of memories… why was it I couldn’t recollect my childhood? I sent out an SOS to my brothers and sister… what do you remember, I asked… and why can’t I remember??? Eventually, I sent a couple of ideas through, but still felt like my childhood was one big void. I found myself almost looking forward to the funeral in the hope that what people will say will remind me more of our times together.

I’ve given it some more thought now, so I want to share with you a bit about my Nan. The early years of my life were spent living just up the road from Nan on a farm in Keith, South Australia. We were neighbours, geographically we couldn’t be any closer. While this meant that a trip to Nan’s to stay only ever happened when Mum and Dad had to go somewhere, I still remember staying at her place… or at least bathing at her place… Nan liked to be wise with her resources – having lived through the Great Depression in Australia in the 1930’s, I don’t think she ever took material possessions for granted. Bath time at Nan’s meant four of us bathing in a bath tub with 2cm of water in the bottom so as to not waste water (it’s hard to even get wet with that little water!) – this continued as a young adult – when we went to visit she would call out about not using too much water in the bathroom. I laugh about it now… but I never found it funny at the time… I think too she had the same mattresses and pillows for the whole of my Dad’s life. I remember being told I was sleeping on Dad’s bed as a kid and it was exciting imagining what he and his brothers got up to in that room. My memories of the bed as I got older aren’t quite as fond – I have an appreciation of what a lumpy mattress is like… I also remember the cupboard under the TV held all the free things you used to get in cereal boxes – it was always a surprise what would be in there next visit…

But I also remember my Nan as a musician – sitting at the piano, belting out tunes… sheet music filling the piano stool and piled up on top of the piano. The music I most often saw at the piano was the hymn book. I remember it always open to a page, sitting there, ready for Nan to walk past, sit and play a song before she continued on with whatever it was she was going to do next. I remember getting to see my Nan every Sunday – as we attended the same church – because there wasn’t very much that kept my Nan away from church.

As I think about this aspect of my Nan’s life I can’t help but think about all my grandparents. They are now all celebrating heaven’s banquet together. I picture them all in the same choir of angels – belting out a few of the greatest hymns around. I’m thankful to all of them for the decision to make church a priority in their lives, and therefore a priority in the lives of their children – my parents. While I wasn’t always thankful about attending church each weekend as a kid, I’m thankful now. I don’t know how I would have made it through life to date without a faith in God. It’s only His amazing grace that saved a wretch like me, and only His strength that gets me through some of life’s challenges. I’m thankful for their example of faith – a faith I can call my own that has sustained me well through this life, and will ensure I party in the next.

So Nan, Grandpop, Nanna and Pa – I hope you’re all having a ball up there together. I look forward to joining you in the choir one day – save me a space in the tenor section! Thanks for loving us well. Thanks for the memories. xo

GEORGE, Beryl Alicia. Only daughter of John James and Annie Amelia (Milly) Mullen Passed away January 26, 2015 at Keith, aged 93. Beloved wife of Lou (deceased). Loved mother of Ronald (deceased), Dot and Ron, Lou and Kathy, Ashley and Ruth, Greg and Kerry, Sandy and Lyndall. Nan to Beverley, Alix and Jessica; Sam, Luke and Sally; David, Jennifer, Helen and Peter. Great Nan to Evie, Noah, Tim and Joshua, Isabelle and Annika, Josiah. Mum, we found your teeth! Enjoy the heavenly banquet!

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

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