Following footsteps

Today, I officially became the reincarnation of my grandmother.

She was a formidable woman, under 5 feet tall, and about that wide. Her bosom was enormous and forever covered in flour from the scones or pies she was baking.

I always think of her when I see an old lady throwing a tantrum in public – for a woman who used a walker, she could storm off in a damn hurry, when she wasn’t getting her own way.

She was flirty and cheeky, her mischievous cackle would light up her eyes, her perpetually high-heeled shoes tapping out of time to the music her voice was trying desperately to sing to – there was great musical talent in her side of the family.

None of it belonged to her.

Her voice was this high pitched, nasal assault to your ears, but in spite of the nails-on-a-chalkboard shudder that rippled through you, it made you smile because it was patently evident that she loved life and was not hindered by self-consciousness.

She lived to party, and had to be the centre of attention – this is where she and I differ greatly. The place we join at the seams is our obsession with our cats, and also in the way we keep the house tidy. Or, in the way we don’t keep the house tidy.

I had always said that my cat obsession would cease at owning living, breathing cats – two at the most. I would not follow in her footsteps and start collecting feline figurines, filling display cabinets with items that would soon be coated in a thick film of dust that I would never bring myself to clean.

But, umm. Today I just followed in one of her other footsteps in a purchase that completely blindsided me.

I just bought a tea towel. A display tea towel.
With cats on it.
One of them is wearing a monocle.

In my defense, this is one amazing tea towel and Nan would totally agree.


For my nan. Who won’t read this. Because she’s 80 today.

What do you say about your grandmother, the woman who helped raise you, on her 80th birthday?

My nan loves her footy and cricket with passion, but dislikes people in general for no reason she can pinpoint (“there’s just something about him/her”).

She is always buying us things. You have to be at least four doors down before you even whisper that you need / have been looking at buying something. If she hears you, without fail, she will turn up at your doorstep a couple of days later with exactly what you were saying you needed.
Apparently it was “just laying around”.
At the shop.

The woman has a giant heart and an even bigger stubborn streak. Like my sister, she’ll argue that the sky is green even if you’re staring right at it, and clearly, it’s FUCKING BLUE. No backing down. She’s the right woman to have in your corner if you ever need someone put in their place.

Just don’t get her involved if there’s a slight chance you could be wrong.
Like that time I thought I heard the bus driver say there’d been a fire on the bus. That totally didn’t go down well when Nan started going off about it and it turns out I was way, way wrong.

She has been there through everything I’ve experienced.

She looked after us as babies, and even in my last year of High School, I was still going to Nan’s after school, instead of home or out with friends.

So many of my warmest memories are in her kitchen, sitting around the dining table while Nan and the Four Daughters of the Apocalypse (my mum and aunts) ALL spoke at once – Three different conversations being held, with all women participating in each.

When Nan and Aunty Helen have different opinions, that’s when it gets really loud.
Aunty Sue tells them both to “wake up”, Aunty Fiona does her Muttley laugh, and mum asks who wants coffee to try and diffuse the situation.

There is honestly no place like inside the arms of your grandmother. The problem arises when your head height is their boob height – both my nans were blessed with ample bosoms and it made for some very awkward greetings as your head had to be turned on this awkward angle so you could get your arms around them.

Now my nan’s arms are thin and bony but they still feel like one of the safest places I’ll ever know.

And, thanks to her, I have started checking the outdoor furniture for spiders before letting any visiting children sit down.

So here’s to Old Rathy, the woman who says “bullshit” in my favourite way, the woman who taught her entire family how to have anxiety, and the woman whose face, voice, arms and kisses make up most of my life’s memories.

Happy Birthday you old tart. I love the shit out of you.