Monday, March 12, 2012

My Inheritance from Grandma Tum

Bedspread made by Grandma Tum
This time last year my family were celebrating Grandma Tum’s 100th birthday. Grandma Tum was my Dad’s mum and she died last November. And so my thoughts turn to her today.

When we told her she was 100, she answered, “Oh I’m not am I? I should be dead!” then giggled.

That sums Grandma up well. She was pragmatic and down to earth with a good sense of humour and a ready laugh. If her children couldn’t find her at home after school they would walk the streets listening for her giggle! Her one hundred years of life saw many changes. She liked to say she had many “little lives” and she didn’t dwell in the past. She liked to keep moving and keep busy.

Grandma Tum, central, with her mother in front, my Grandfather on the right, her brother on the left and my Dad Peter behind her
Grandma Tum was a sprightly little lady who loved playing golf and played until she was into her 90’s, still able to keep four scores in her head. Her real name was Hilda but was always known as Tum, a nickname from when she was a toddler. She reluctantly left school at 13 because her mother suffered a mysterious undiagnosed ailment for a time (she recovered and went on to live to be 96 years old!) and Tum had to look after her. She married my Grandfather, Mick, a teacher, and they lived in small communities where he taught in one room schools. Tum would help out and teach the kids craft.

After falling and breaking her pelvis at 93 years old, Grandma’s mental health declined and she moved into a home. I inherited all her crochet and knitting patterns then. She preferred to crochet than knit because she liked lacy patterns and enjoyed how fast crochet grows (I’m with her there!)

In fact, I have a few things in common with Grandma Tum. Like her, I’m a small framed person with lots of energy. Like her, I love shoes – even in hospital Grandma had high heel slippers! I, like Grandma Tum, love wearing bright coloured plastic beads. She also liked dangling earrings and a dab of eye shadow on each eye lid.

Grandma's twin boys, Patrick and Michael
Also, like me, Grandma had identical twins. By the time I had my twins, Grandma had already lost a lot of her memory. She said she didn’t know who I was, but she knew she loved me. When I told her about the twins she was suddenly very lucid. “Twins!” she exclaimed. “They always want the same toy and there are only ever three socks.”  Some things just get burnt into the hippocampus I guess!

After Grandma died, My Uncle Michael (one of her twins) met with me for afternoon tea and handed over this little case. Inside were some craft things - scissors, yarn, doilies, handwritten patterns and books.

He also gave me the bed spread Grandma had made (at the top of the page)
Grandma Tum and Grandad Mick
When Grandma was widowed in her early fifties, she went into an uncharacteristic slump. A good friend rallied her, encouraged her to learn typing and got her to go out into the workforce. It was a formative lesson and after that she would always be of the belief that you have to pick yourself up and brush yourself off and carry on.  I remember when Grandma was widowed a second time, in her eighties,  and I asked her what she was going to do. She answered, “Adelaide! I’ve never been to Adelaide! I think I’ll catch the train there.” Which she did.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of your precious grandmother. What a lovely person she must have been. I'm glad you have your memories plus those sewing supplies and that gorgeous bed spread.