"She seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if she had surprised a butterfly in the Winter woods"
(edith wharton)

Monday, 27 July 2009

let me tell you about Florence

for some reason, at various stages on my journey.. things reveal themselves to me... I notice things that remind me of an ancestor... recently it was Laura.. and now the past week, my memories are being stirred once again but this time by my paternal Grandmother - Florence Emily Tester... she died on my 10th birthday.. January 1st 1968... creating another bond.. she was one of those old grandmas.. you know, the ones with the big aprons, crinkly saggy necks, the kind of skin you want to dig your little fingers into and snuggle against.. making you safe. she smelled of lavender, a no nonsense grandma... I can't remember her giving me a cuddle.. but I can remember her soup, her damper and her roast dinners... and I have memories of her home... just lately, she is around me.. I am remembering things and I am seeing reminders of her in my daily life... where is she taking me? I have an idea but nothing I can put words to just yet.

what triggered these memories off was a gorgeous set of words that I discovered on Gemma's blog:

All year round she kept racks full of plants in pots standing on green painted wooden steps. There were rare geraniums, dwarf rose bushes with misty white and pink plumes. ~ Colette

when I read them, I was transported back to the driveway of my grandma's home.. where she grew the most amazing hydrangeas.... they grew along the side of the house in the driveway.. the same driveway that was shaded by a big tree.. the same driveway where my uncles would park their cars when they came home for lunch during their working week.. the house was an old house.. ancient to my little girl self..

at the door was a trusty old mat
and an old cement frog(the exact same one that sat outside my Grandmas door!!..when she owned him, he had a small plant growing out his mouth)..

and up the back in front of the shed was a puddle where I use to catch tadpoles...
when you walked in the door on the right was a set of ricketty steps that took you down into the bathroom where a huge cast iron bath sat..
on the left as you walked in the front door was the kitchen entrance which was a galley shaped one.. on the left the big fuel stove, the sink and benches.. on the right was an old dresser.. at the end was a scrubbed pine table where she use to roll her pastry.. then you turned right and into the dining room..

where there was a gorgeous timber window with a lace curtain that fluttered in the breeze..

the dining room had a huge australian cedar table and chairs with a sideboard to match.. this is where the family sat when we had dinner with at their house.. I remember the plum puddings at christmas time.. I always seemed to get a sixpence !! off the dining room was grandma & grandfathers bedroom...

a big brass & iron bed

and under it was the potty for nightime use..
back outside and on the left of the driveway was the vegie garden.. I remember walking with Grandfather around the patch picking lettuce, spring onions and cucumbers.. there is nothing better than absolutely fresh vegies..
along the front of the house ran a verandah, enclosed with trellis for privacy and an old settee was made up for afternoon naps...
My grandma crocheted too.. she won prizes for her crocheted blankets.. she played the organ.. She was a mother of 7 boys, no girls, she wore hats and on the days she didn't, she always had a hair net on....I can't remember much more.. I have tried tracing her family tree but can't go back very far.. did she love her life or did it just happen to her? is she now making herself known to me, to urge me on in my quest?..

and being inspired by Gemma's trusty map.. I drew a sketch of my grandma's home.


Dana said...

So I just fell across your blog.

I will vow to you, that I will be a faithful reader. :)

We have things in common!


I won't tell you what they are now, because I have to go read some more of your blog! :)

Holly said...

Now with much of your anger draining from your life, it's wonderful to realize that space is being opened up to remember sturdy things, real things, kind things, things of home and hearth and feeling a woman who was most likely brave as you are learning the true definition of bravery. She's always been's just that now there is a space for her voice to come through and be heard by you. Please tell her I say hello and hope she is well!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

A delightful post, thanks for sharing! Aren't Grandmas great? What special relationships, although of course at the time we didn't realize just how special.

Grammy said...

I love that Ideal to add sketch's and more detail like that to the family history. I have a photo of my grandmas cow. I thought that was a treasure in its self. I am lucky to here some story's from my aunt about her. But no one can tell me much on my great grand parents.

gemma said...

Florence looks like a wonderful grandmother.She's alot like my
Gma Maryfrank Sandy(especially the lavender part) Someday I'll try to remember her house in New Mexico.
I know it was flat roofed adobe and there were lace curtains somewhere in there. I have a question. Is that your frog? Does he make a ribet when you pass by?
We have one with a battery inside that does that!

solsticedreamer~laoi gaul~williams said...

she sounds wonderful, i love the idea of the settee outside for naps :)

Ruth said...

I'm sure that your grandmother is speaking to you right now to help you on your new journey.

Billie Jane said...

Now isn't it strange, although my grandparents came from somewhere millions of miles away from yours (Glasgow), and their lives were so very different, your post has conjured up my granny's house - long since demolished - I shall have to write this down so that I don't lose the memory. Thankyou. :-)

Sylvia said...

Grannies are so special. I loved your Florence. Your description is fantastic; I almost could see myself there, at your grandma's door, feeling the delicious smell of dinner! The photos are so homely, so sweet.

Fire Byrd said...

how lovely to be able to revisit all these memories. it is good to look back and hold onto the happy memories.

Rita said...

Lovely memories! Thanks for bringing us along. I will hve to stop back again. :)

Angela said...

This is a gorgeous post. I dreamt of my granny a couple of nights ago. Maybe all the grandmothers are coming back to help us. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Take care, sweet.

Annie said...

Dear Robyn,

Your loving remembrance brings to mind my own two great-grandmothers. I so wish I had stronger memories of them. Fortunately I have photos to keep them alive in memory.

I've noticed Gemma's map at the bottom of her blog and it had not occurred to me to do it as well. Your map of your grandma's house is an inspiration to me.