The day I heard, I had to fly back to my homeland to say Goodbye, I cried with such pain, loss, sorrow and anguish.
I knew that call would come sooner than later, I had thought I would be prepared for it to happen. The truth would be, I was consumed by true loss of the woman I had so very much loved, honoured and respected.
She was the last of my clan to see me rise from a baby to a woman with her own family, ethics and morals that lived within the next generation and the evolution of the child who endure such adversity to stand tall and hold her head high with pride.
My beloved Nanna, had passed away and left me wondering if my role as Grandmother to Baby O’Chunky would now be as influential, adoring and the baton for passing on memories for him and his future cousins to admire, cherish and laugh over?
I knew when that phone call came to tell me the Old Guard had passed the baton on and I could either chose to neglect the ritual, the blessings, the morals, the ethics, the code of strength, diligence, mindfulness and respect that comes with that baton or step up with all my heart and become the person who can look back in the years that will come and know that I did my best to encourage, support, comfort, nurture, advise, calm and offer all my being to upholding the honour placed upon me – Grandmother.
I, had already made that decision many many years, leading up to that moment. My role as Grandmother or in my case, “Nelly”, was formulated on these principles taught to me by the two women who had encased me with their collective hearts and showed me the path. I would be a woman who showcased LOVE (first and foremost!). I would NEVER have favourites because all my grandchildren that will come will be forever adored and yes, fussed over with admiration, a swift telling off if needed, open arms filled with warmth and encouragement to be the best they could be. I would TRY with all my being to be the Nelly, they would be proud of and HOPE, I left a little bit of me within for the future!
With that in mind, I began my preparations for saying Goodbye to one of my heroines, I respected, loved and adored.
In the hectic few days leading up to saying Goodbye, while frantically trying to find funds, buy airline tickets, find a place to stay and prepare myself for the shit storm that would erupt once I step forth onto “Home” soil, I reflected back on My Grandmother and her influence on who I would be become, as the years flowed by.
My maternal Grandmother Arthenia , with my paternal Grandmother, Nell, were two pivotal people in my life growing up in New Zealand. One, offered me shelter from the storm that would continue brewing throughout my life with the sanctuary of her home, cuddles and careful observance , while the other would offer me sanctuary through her words and blessing for a better life with the one I loved with all my heart.
Both, I adored, cherished and loved with all my being. I knew from my experience of coping with Nell’s death as a teenager, that I would be brave for a while, diligent in my duties as a member of the family before needing to find solace as an individual to lick my wounds clean and to allow myself to heal. However, the depth of turmoil that evolved upon my Grandmother Arthenia’s passing, I realised no teenage experience could prepare me for. This time I had to use ALL of my learning as an Adult to find a comfortable balance without compromising my mental and physical state of mind and body.
I knew there was no way, I could take this journey alone. I knew I needed a comforting hand to hold, a smile to whisk me back from the brink of fear, a kiss to tell me I was loved unconditionally. I needed a barometer to tell me in which direction I must head and not be afraid to do so. I needed the one person, who knew no one in the inner sanctums of chaos that is called my maternal family to guide me from the depths of hell that would unfold.
Without even being asked, he stepped up, held my hand and told me – Let’s unleash the Kracken!
Moments before we left Australia to head to New Zealand, he told me to smile – to visualize the love, comfort, food, support and cuddles we would receive from the two people who were waiting for us with open arms, kind hearts and wisdom a plenty!
With them in mind and my beloved Red holding my hand – I flew away to say goodbye.
There is a story within this story, that I have elected NOT to tell. However, there is one pivotal bit I will divulge:- The day I buried my grandmother, my own mother collapsed and had to be revived several times. The things I learnt, stem mainly from that event. She is thankfully back on the road to recovery.
As much as I spent those few days away, being bombarded with revelations, were witness to old wounds and grievances still being held onto like a prized possession by those old enough to know , nothing will ever be resolved unless they let go. The knowledge that even in death, love will not conquer all. I learnt alot about myself.
I learnt even faced with death right in front of me, I remained calm. I merely told those who were trying to force words and actions upon me within nanoseconds, that they must wait whether doctor, nurse, social worker or companion. It was not time to fall to bits but to be a composed, collected adult with rational thought patterns and they will follow suit until such time as I deemed necessary.
Even when facing hostility and suppressed rage while being watched by an audience, instead of unleashing the expected vitriol, dosed with a lashing of a vipers venom, I reached out with my hand, grabbed what was rightly mine and left them in wonder, astonishment and showed the audience that I was not going to play the game.
I used skills obtained over the years, from both personal and professional situations to uphold order in a time of petty jealousies, intent to destruct, ignorance and maliciousness to bring structure and control to a collection of people merely held together by blood and not one ounce of love between them.
I think my father would have been proud of my use of negotiation, military organisational skills and downright pig headed stubbornness to not accept any more bullshit when the shit hit the fan. I know that they came away with a begrudging new outlook of admiration and respect to the niece, daughter and cousin they thought they knew but had no idea underneath those roles she played, roared a mighty warrior.
Just like to give a personal thanks to my Dad for who taught me, how to fight!! To shake the foundations the opposition stood on – with words, diligence to detail and that power of knowledge is the key to success.
When dealing with situations that had been brewing for mere months or years in some cases, that anger would not resolve them, nor even love, simply because they were not ready for resolution nor in some cases ever would be. That it was okay, to be sad but also be able to walk away from that situation with your head held high and the opposition standing still in wonder and some respects, fear because they knew now, You could not be bothered trying to make them see sense.
I learnt that as much as I have aged, changed in appearance, therefore think I am projecting myself as a whole new person, when faced with someone who has not seen you for 35+ years, can still come up to you and tell you “You haven’t changed a bit!” I went home that night, stood in front of the bathroom mirror and realised yes, I had changed but still inside of me was the young Lois they knew and SHE was a bloody brilliant person!
I discovered that the place I once hated with a vengeance, that still gives me nightmares, 32 years after I closed the front door, I can actually walk back into at the end of the night and are so thankful, the arms that greeted me with pure love and devotion, washed away the pain of the day. I NEVER EVER thought, I would find that joy, that solitude, camaraderie and love within those four walls. I will not lie and say it healed all, but it was a beginning of a new destiny for me.
I always knew that to formulate my own family, I needed to shed the constraints of the past in order to walk into the future. There, on my home soil, I understood that all the things, I had ingrained, preached, nagged and coerced into a set of values and morals I lead my life by, was true. That regardless of whether blood is the kinship we share, it is in fact, who we are as people who formulates the future.
With anything that rattles us, we do seek salvation, a sense of peace and calmness after the maelstrom that has taken us from our comfort zone and we have used all our reserves to battle against. I knew that my salvation for wholeness after this ordeal that required total dedication to offering my worth, my code of ethics, my behavioural attributes and sense of decency lay not on my home soil but within the sanctuary I have created as my own – across the sea, far far away and they were waiting for me with open arms.
That salvation, came as I walked into my daughter’s home at the end of 4 days of extreme weary battling and having my grandson placed within my arms. His little face, his milky scent, the tangling of fingers around mine and his cool breath upon my neck – soothed my weary battle scarred body, mind and soul.
VALE: ARTHENIA AND NELL…..You taught me well. I LOVE YOU.