Sometimes I'm asked, "What story have you most enjoyed writing?". Then I rave to that poor person about the story I wrote back in 2011, while I was a features writer at Marie Claire Australia, about life lessons from grandmothers. It was just the best assignment, ever.
I don't know if it's because my Oma (that's her with three-year-old me above) and Granny are no longer alive and I miss them or I'm just a weirdo, but I have a deep love and fascination for grandmothers. Show me an old lady dancing at a wedding and you'll have me in tears in five seconds flat. But writing that story showed me that old ladies aren't just sweet old cuties, they're PEOPLE, TOO. They're smart, they're sassy, they're funny and they're bloody surprising.
So, to fuel my penchant for nannas, I'm reviving that story and collecting some more words of wisdom from even more wise grandmothers.
To kick things off, I want to go back to the lady I consider my surrogate grandma, Sheila. She's known me since I was three days old. I played nekkid in her Balmain garden. We would spend a day every school holiday doing impossibly glamorous things like collecting samples from the David Jones beauty counters and having high tea. She's led a fascinating life (Grew up in India! Married a Russian soldier! Emigrated to Australia!). Eighty five and still terribly English despite 40-odd years in Sydney, she's classiest woman I know. Despite going through breast cancer, a brain tumor and becoming legally blind, I have never seen her without her lipstick on, with lemons sliced for tea and spirits high.
Here's what she had to say about what she's learned.
P.S. If you'd like to read the original piece, you can find it here. Betty, the lovely lady who is on the first page, passed away only a few weeks after the story came out. I will never forget the lovely email I received from her niece that said she'd loved seeing herself and her words in a magazine.
P.P.S. Do you have a grandma or grandmotherly type you would like me to interview? Get in touch!