Thursday, 3 March 2016

Remembering the grandparents & their influence

This week marks what would have been my maternal grandparents 105th birthdays. They were born a week apart from very different backgrounds.

My grandfather was born of German / Dutch parents & he retained his handsome upright Teutonic looks.

My grandmother was born of English immigrants to Southern Africa.

This unlikely combination was not unusual in South Africa where most people have an interesting heritage.

These great grandparents hung in my grandparents home, then my parents home & some years back, they came to England to grace our home. They are part of our story & we all know them by name & their stories are great dinner time conversations - their story is our story ... The couple were my grandfathers parents, the gentleman my grandmothers father.

My Grandfather's aunt, our Dutch great great aunt, lived in a vast farmhouse in the rurals & I remember visiting her as a teenager & marvelling at her brass gas lamps (electricity was not mainstream in rural communities); she had a large 'stoep' which hugged the house & an eclectic style which I loved. I mentioned their ways in this post on 'saucered & blowed' 

My grandmother's family were quite 'English' & 'proper' - she was a very capable nurse, later a Matron who was a no nonsense, efficient type of person with a wicked sense of humour.

Being the oldest granddaughter, I always spent a lot of time with these grandparents & was very close to them. I am seen here as a young flower girl (in the orange dress) at my Aunt's wedding, with my handsome grandfather keeping an eye on proceedings ....

Once my grandmother was widowed fairly young (at 69), she was an eager companion & co-adventurer.  She adored my hubby & he her, especially as she came to stay regularly & being a dab hand at sewing,  I would arrive home from my teaching job to find all sorts of mending done, as well as curtains, cushions & more all appearing from her treadle machine ...

I was fortunate that my eldest daughter knew my grandmother & she still has fond memories of 'Bobba' (an endearing Jewish term) spoiling her & appearing in a special photo of 4 generations in this Christmas photo.

Granny was a very capable cook & it was a joy to be spoilt with her cooking while she visited.  She would cook hubby all his favourite English foods & entertain us with stories of her war time service when she served as a nurse & worked in a factory sewing up canvas tents for the Commonwealth war effort. She was awarded a medal by King George during his trip to South Africa with the two Princesses in 1947, because she had saved lives during a train derailment by nursing the wounded at great peril to her own safety.

So this week, I have been thinking of what influence they had on me.

I think their greatest influence was the gift of their time & unconditional love - they believed in me & made me believe in myself.  They each had a sister - our maiden aunts - who didn't have children of their own so they spoilt us all with their time, humour, quirky ways, regular presence & a little inheritance.

I still wear my great aunts ring with much pride;  the Singer hand sewing machine from the other great Aunt started my love of sewing when I was just a teenager.  They were both family orientated &  I have this same trait.

That is the family legacy - being so fondly remembered that they are never forgotten, their quirky stories are still relayed around our family table so that the girls know them through the stories we tell.  They live on because their stories are our stories & the younger generation know them & tell them with relish - a sense of continuity prevails!

To speak their names is to make them live again ... 

I hope you had a similar relationship with your grandparents. How did they influence on your life? What would you like your legacy to be?

Thanks for your company & for taking the time to comment,
Dee ~♥~


  1. Haai ja nee! A wonderful read and trip down memory lane. Thank you for sharing. Had no idea U Peter came from German/Dutch ancestry. x x x

    1. Aaah you share the maternal line - I have some photos of the rather severe looking great-grandmother ...

      You will sup in full view of the German / Dutch ancestors of mine when you visit - we might even take our wine thru to the living room to escape their gaze hehe x


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