Thursday, July 4, 2013

A tale of 2 Grannys.

Many of you know that my Nan passed away earlier this year at the wonderful age of 93, and the immense sense of loss I felt at her passing. Today I am writing a post to link in with Meet Me At Mikes Granny-a-long, dedicated to my Nan and my Gram, both awesome ladies.

I'll start with my Gram.

Name: Mavis Newth

Four words to describe her: Passionate, Positive, Determined, Proud.

Achievements: Mum, Grandma, Great Grandma, Great, Great Grandma, Mother of all Richmond Tigers supporters, sewing wizz.

Mavis looked at the world with rose coloured glasses, and always had a positive word to say about, well, everything really. If I was renting the ugliest student house ever, she loved the carpet and the light fittings, my meals were always restaurant quality, and my achievements world class. That was her and it always made me laugh. She was awesome.

My gram died almost 2 years ago now, she was 90. We never lived nearby but I loved her visits and always knew how strong her love was. She was always sewing, mostly from remnants. She loved that remnant basket at the fabric shop. She made her own clothes and many of mine, in which she sewed a label that said 'made with love by grandma'. About 6 months before she died she gave me some of her clothes to refashion.

One of her dresses.

Here I am in her red coat.

She loved to dress in bright colours, yellow and aqua dresses, colourful handbags, and a warm personality.

She was a strong woman, one who got things done, and who had a social conscience and the gumption to do something about it.

When she died, she did it on her own terms. She made a decision to throw away all of her medication, and to leave this earth. She did it with a dignity and strength that I have never before seen in another human being. I was pregnant when I had the privilege to be a pallbearer at her funeral, and farewell a woman full to the brim of courage, love, optimism and fun.

A note that came in the mail a few months after her death.

I miss her every day, but I carry inside me a little of her strength, her determination and her optimism. And a deep love for the Richmond Football Club. Carn the tiges!

This is my Nanny.

Name: Anna Barnard

4 words to describe her: Family, Community, Carer, Tough

Career: Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, Great, Great Grandmother to 5 children, 26 grandchildren, 50 great grandchildren and 4 gg children. MacRobertsons chocolate factory maker of the swirly chocolate with the nut inside. Maker of awesome soup, pasties and custard.

Claim to fame: Used to look after our former PM Julia Gillard's cat when she was out of town.

With my daughter Juliet.

With me.

My Nan lived in the same house for over 60 years, and this was a huge part of who she was. Her inner city Melbourne street in Abbotsford morphed from one thing to the next. From slum, to immigrant haven to inner city trendy, and for every incarnation, she was at the heart of it. She was known by all in the street, would always be the one to collect mail, look after cats, children, and generally care about those in her neighbourhood. In turn, they cared about her, and were always there to look after her.

She was also the thread that held her huge family together, not just her immediate family, but that of her 10 brother's and sisters. She was who everyone could count on, go to in times of need, and she would just sit and be. She wasn't one for too many words, she would cook her hearty food, and dispense hugs and common sense with equal measure.

Anna was thrifty, as were most of her era, she never let go of much, and when she passed a couple of months ago much of her home was as it had been all those years ago. She migrated from Ireland as a child, and her Irish beginnings were never far from her mind. If my crafty sewing gene comes from my gram, the op shopping gene is from Nan. She was always taking us down to her local salvos in Abbotsford when we visited, or, when I was a student, finding hard garbage treasures for my share house from the neighbouring alleys. Her way was not to throw away.

At her 90th birthday.

I hope that I too will be the glue that holds my family together. Instilled in me is her sense of community, of right and wrong, and the notion of repair and rejuvenate rather than throw away.

Sometimes happniness can be a cheese toastie, and a memory wrapped up in a whole lot of love. My Nan's table, the centre of her kitchen and home for over 60 years, now lives in my house, another house of love and comfort for friends and family alike. (I hope).

I love using the ramekins Nan gave me years ago.

I miss these two strong and amazing ladies every day. They live inside my heart and my mind, and impact all that I do, all that I am, and all that I love. Grandparents are a very awesome thing, treasure them while you can. When they are gone there seems to be a huge hole where they once were, but you can fill it up by living a life that does them proud.

by Sharon Newth  linking to


  1. Such beautiful memories of both of your lovely Nana's, so sweet! x

  2. This is just lovely. What beautiful memories. I added my link at meetmeatmikes too titled Family. xx

  3. Both your grandmothers were beautiful women and you were so blessed to know them and be able to spend time with them while they were alive. Such loving memories you have of them.


    1. Thanks Joyce. Very blessed in life I know. 90 and 93! Very awesome stuff.

  4. Oh I'm getting all teary.. Beautiful post.

    1. Thanks Ashwee for visiting and reading. Nan's are the best! :)

  5. Hi Sharon, Popping by from Pip's link up. Your Gram sounds incredibly thoughtful and kind. I love that you've refashioned her clothes, what a great idea! Your Nan sounds like a total gem too, I especially love that first pic of her - how cool does she look!! Loved hearing about these awesome ladies, thanks for sharing! Belinda x