I was given the enormous honour of delivering my Nanna’s eulogy yesterday, speaking on behalf of her 14 grandchildren. I have been so fortunate to have such a wonderful lady in my life for so long and thought I would share this little snapshot of her life with you all…
Edith was known by many names. Mum, wife, nanna, nan, sis, Edie, and Speedie Edie. For us; we knew her as “Nanna” and we dedicate this eulogy to her.
Gloria recalls Nanna being a terrific mother, even though she was very strict. Gloria had a wonderful relationship with Nanna, and developed a closeness that blossomed into real friendship as they both grew older. They spent many, many hours on the phone talking and were always there for each other.
When Gloria was 16, she moved to Canberra. It was not long after this that Nanna and Bill moved to Ingleburn in Sydney. They were always close by and Gloria remembers the support nanna gave after the birth of every child, and how she would always come down to assist, in any way she could.
Contrary to popular belief, the nickname “Speedie Edie” did not come about due to her lead foot while driving, or from any speeding fines. In fact, nanna was an incredibly safe driver, even though, often, she could only just see over the steering wheel of Bill’s big cars.
One day, Edie was driving Gloria and Willy around in the Valiant. Willy was wearing his favourite towelling fisherman’s hat, when it was suddenly whisked from his head. As it flew out the open window, he commented that Edie was driving so fast, the hat was sucked right outside the vehicle. And so, Speedie Edie was born.
Nanna and Bill were very well travelled. They went on adventures to New Zealand, America (including Hawaii), Papua New Guinea, Canada and all around Australia. They participated in many bus tours and loved the ones where they were able to camp and be outdoors. We grandchildren feel we have also inherited this spirit of adeventure and would send Nanna postcards from our travels around the world. Nanna loved receiving them and would read them over and over again. It especially meant more to her, when the postcard was sent from somewhere she had travelled herself.
After Nanna and Bill retired, they returned to Macksville to live. They joined the local dance club and enjoyed many years of social activities and ballroom dancing. Nanna and Bill looked very glamorous floating around the dance floor together.
Nanna also joined a ceramics class, which she enjoyed immensely. As did we, receiving many jewellery boxes, money boxes, vases and bowls. We still have and treasure those ceramics made for us, with the initials “E.P” etched into the bottom of them.
Scotts Head has always been our family’s holiday destination, and we loved spending time with Nanna and Bill. We grandkids always loved a special treat staying with them, first, in their caravan at Uncle Ivan’s place, and later, at 6 Willis St. Down at the beach, nanna was like a bobbing cork, floating around the ocean with a huge smile on her face.
Nanna would always take in a different combination of kids, to give Mum, or Bruce’s wife Tanya, respite. It was never any trouble, no matter how long we stayed. Nanna was a great role model – instilling in everyone – her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren – strong values and good character. She was firm but fair, and always metred her expectations with plenty of love. Belinda recalls how much she influenced her in the her formative years and has especially fond memories of collecting wild passion fruit along Warrell Creek.
In the days before by-passes, we had to go through each little town, on the long car ride home. Nanna would entertain us but making jokes out of the names. “Do you want to LOOK at Cooloongolook?” and “By Croki, we’re in Croki!” She always made sure we watched out for the ghost at Deadmans Gully and was relentless in ensuring we never ate McDonalds – always packing a lunch and baked goodies instead of stopping for take away. In hindsight, this was so much better anyway! Her sandwiches were always so fresh and tasty with tender chicken or corned beef and homemade relishes.
Nanna was the knitting and crochet queen. She seemed at her happiest sitting in her recliner, busily mending clothing, or making blankets, slippers, scarves, doilies or whatever project her grandchildren and great grandchildren were in need of. She would do all this while chatting away, or watching us, as we watched television. Nanna never indulged much in TV, and preferred to spend time watching those around her.
A strong memory for all us grandkids, including Belinda and Rebecca, were the culinary delights that awaited us at Nanna’s. Her famous chocolate cake, pumpkin scones, biscuits, quiche and gramma pie, were always a hit. No matter how much we’ve tried to replicate them, they never taste the same. I didn’t relish the choko though. I used to joke with nanna, that the vegetable really suited its name. Nevertheless, I would always eat it up because I was a little scared about the consequences if I didn’t …and also, knew there would be no dessert!
Somehow the six seater table would manage to accommodate a dinner for eight, ten, or more, and we would always eat using her “best dinner set”. No matter the combination, or how many people, nanna preferred to sit at her vintage telephone table, where she could watch everyone enjoying her meal. Washing the dishes was our way of saying “thank you”. Nanna would always protest but we could tell she was secretly pleased, and relieved, when we did them… As was Bill!
Growing up in the depression, Nanna knew how to make things stretch. Always using food until it was no more, saving buttons, thread, plastic bags, and containers. She was savvy and smart; getting the most out of everything. It was incredible to see a chicken chassis feed 8 or 28. It didn’t matter, she made it work.
Another strong memory, for all the grandkids, is sitting around the dining table playing patience or tile rummy. Bill would cheekily wait for Nanna to become distracted by the conversation and slyly wink, as he’d sneak out a tile or two, or pull out an extra card. Nanna never seemed to notice.
I distinctly remember a conversation with Nanna while sitting around the dining room table, having a cup of tea and pumpkin scone. I was talking with her about life and love, lamenting my singledom and telling her how I hoped one day, I would have a long and happy marriage like hers. Nanna replied with the following,
“I’ve been lucky really. Bill and I have had a great life together. He was a good father, good provider and a good husband, but more than anything, he is my best friend and we have grown into our old age with our companionship holding us together. Isn’t that right Bill?” Echoing from the lounge room came a reply of “Eh!?” from Bill, who was watching the cricket, and clearly hadn’t been listening to a word! Nanna and I laughed. She patted my hand, telling me I would be alright and to just “have another scone.”
Nanna was wrong about one thing though. She wasn’t the only lucky one. We are lucky too, to have had such a wonderful lady in our lives for so long. It offers us great comfort to know Nanna and Bill are together again; eternal companions.
We will now finish with a quote from an unknown author:
We watched you grow old and get tired
And with tearful eyes we watched you pass away
Although we all love you dearly
It’s selfish to ask you to stay
A golden heart stopped beating
Hardworking hands at rest
God broke our hearts to prove to us
He has only taken the best.
Thank you for joining us today, in saying farewell to our beloved Nanna.