Saturday, 14 July 2012

More than Bastille Day to me

The anniversary of my Grenny's birthday (and the birthday of my nephew)

How do you fit a life, and a big one, into a few paragraphs? You can’t, so here’s a little on my Gren. Most of this was gleaned from spending time with her and talking (and talking and talking) – something many people wish they did, and often too late. I didn’t record any of it and sometimes wish I did – lucky I have a great memory (so far).
My Gren with her grandmother

Mary Waveney Kathleen FRANCIS, known as Kath, was born in 1910, the third child of Australian-born parents William Collier FRANCIS (1864-1946) and Florence May PEARSON, known as May (1875-1947). They lived in Yinnar, in Gippsland, Victoria, and named their house Tythegston after the town in Glamorgan, Wales where William’s parents were married. We don’t know where the ‘Waveney’ in her name came from.
She married Keith Leo GRENFELL when she was 25 years old, a bit late for those times and had one son either side of WWII. They lived in Yallourn, Victoria.
Between Mar 1944 and mid 1947, Gren lost her husband, father in law, and both her parents. In post-war rural Victoria, it must have been tough with her two little boys, the youngest not even one year old when his father died.
Gren retired at 59 years old and went on her first overseas trip – a cruise to Japan. She loved it so much she decided on her return to get another job so she could travel more. She worked for another 21 years, travelling every year, well into her 70s. She loved Asia, particularly Malaysia but also went to Hong Kong, LA, Disneyland, Philippines, South America, including the Andes and even Columbia. Sometimes she travelled on organised trips, other times with another lady from work or friends she met on an earlier trip.

She didn't like her photo taken
 but my brother managed to sneak this one in 1984 
I was very lucky to be her only granddaughter, and her last overseas trip when in her late 70s, was with me. We went to Malaysia, her favourite. We travelled by car, visited some friends and she showed me some of her favourite places. She loved to shop but rarely for herself – all for the family, especially the grandchildren.
She was always happy to accompany me on my trips to the country for work or pleasure. She used to love to ‘mow the grass’ at my parents’ farm but it was really because she found it easy to get around the place on the ride-on mower.
She loved to watch sport on TV, particularly tennis (as she used to play) and was disgusted to see the demise of white tennis clothes. I hate to think what she would have thought of the ‘grunters’ now. She liked a flutter on the horses in the bigger races but pretty much stuck to ‘the greys’.
Grenny retired at 81 to the surprise of her work colleagues, who thought she was 65. At the time she died, aged 88 she had four great grandchildren, the first one shares her birthday.
She was called Grenny rather than Granny, like a nickname (from Grenfell), because she was everybody’s ‘granny’ – all our friends, and the kids in her street.