This weeks blog challenge is to remember family members who have died. There have been a few, however there is one in particular who stands out amongst the rest and that is of my grandmother, whom we called Nanna Herbert.
I was only 11 years old at the time, we had recently moved into our new brick & tile house on the farm and nanna came to stay with us over Christmas. We had celebrated Christmas, then the next day, Boxing Day, 26th December 1966, stands out in my mind so very clearly, I can still see the events unfold. We were all up and having breakfast, Dad was off milking the cow, however nanna was still in bed. Not really like her, so I went to her bedroom to see if she was coming out, she was on her way. I don’t recall if nanna had any breakfast, I don’t think so, however she started doing the washing up and Peter was wiping the dishes. I was still sitting at the table when I heard a loud thud. I jumped up from the table and went around the side of the island cupboard and there was nanna on the floor. Mum had been doing the washing, she called out for dad to come as he was just walking in the yard with a bucket of milk. He dropped the bucket and milk went flying as he raced inside and tried with all his might to keep nanna breathing, but it wasn’t to be. Our Nanna Herbert died there, on the kitchen floor.
Everything seems a blur from there on, however I do remember the Woodcock family taking me to their beach cottage while mum and dad did the funeral arrangements. None of us kids went to the funeral, it wasn’t a done thing in those days. But I missed nanna so much and even to this day, I think of her often and what a wonderful grandmother she was.
Another huge memory was in August 1988 when mum died at the farm. Dad phoned me just before 9pm on the Wednesday to tell me that mum had died in her sleep. I was shattered. How could that be, she was only 59 and I had rung her just that morning. Nothing was different about our conversation, she was going to be doing some gardening and was getting the boys (my brother’s) who were still on the farm to help her move some large pot plants around and trim the jacaranda tree. She’d gone to bed early feeling tired. Dad did tell me later that she said her arm had been aching, but that might have been due to the shifting of the pot plants!! Mum was a very tidy person, the house was clean from her Monday of washing and ironing, Tuesday house cleaning and she had packed her sewing basket, ready to go to patchwork on Thursday. Each day of the week was set out with what she would do, never to do again.
In July 1989 we lost Dad’s mother, my grandmother, nanna Cripps. Nanna was 96 and after a hip replacement and various falls, she was in SJOG hospital. All her family, of 10 children had been to see her before she passed, the last was at a reunion in the May.
December 1990, the first of the Cripps 10 siblings passed away. Aunty Brenda, died all too young, at just 62.
October 2000, dad died at the farm. He had been lonely and so sad after mum had passed away. He had a companion who came and lived with him in Betty Hosken. Betty looked after dad until his last day. I remember that day distinctly, I had just been for a game of tennis, my first in years, when Garry rang to say Dad had died. I couldn’t believe it, as just before I went out in the morning, I had rung and spoken to Dad. Little did I know that would be the last time.
Then in March 2003 we lost my brother Bobbo or Robin, which is his proper name. Bobbo had been sick for sometime and had some major operations, however he just couldn’t hang on and died 1 month short of his 49th birthday.
Tragedy struck on Father’s Day 2005 when my beautiful niece Dellys was taken from us at the tender age of 18. Dellys had been driving to her parent’s farm to spend Father’s Day with them, but unfortunately never made it.
October 2007, we were sitting on our back patio with my brother Peter and wife Anne, our daughter Melissa, who was visiting with her husband and baby Harley, when the phone rang. It was my friend Donelle, asking if I’d heard the news. Being busy with the family, we weren’t listening to the radio. It was then that she told me that my cousin, Chris Mainwaring, West Coast Eagles football star, had died during the night at the age of 41. That was unbelievable. We were all in shock, how could that be!?
There have been other deaths that have been significant in my life, aunties, uncles, and many friends. We are part of the circle of life and no matter what, one day, we will all have to go.