My grandmother – Jenny – was a London war orphan. She was sent with other war orphans to homes in Adelaide Australia.
Tragically what should’ve been safety at last became horror as she was placed in a terribly abusive home. She would tell me about how her adoptive parents would chase her around with a knife and she would hide behind the lemon tree with their dog in the backyard. At 16 years old she decided to run away and find a new life. She got on a boat to Canada, the country that eventually became her forever home.
Life wasn’t simple being an orphan run away with no support or education. She ended up alone with her daughters, my mother and her sister hitchhiking around Canada, living in hippie communes and finding work wherever she could.
My mum talks about how she would come home with big blisters on her feet after wearing heels all night making money as a waitress. I also remember being told no matter how crazy things were, even if they were dumpster diving for food – they always looked lovely. Which is no surprise, as Jenny always looked wonderful.
She was deeply into fashion, and eventually fell in love with a travelling clothing salesman – who took in all the girls as his own. He was the best father to my mother, and the best grandfather in the world. My grandmother loved him dearly. When he passed away, we feel she couldn’t quite grasp or deal with the world without him. Her Alzheimer’s started to set in, and got to the point of no communication, but on her very last day she remembered all the grandchildren’s names, even my sons despite only meeting him once.
She was the most kind and gentle woman on the planet. Whenever I hear people talk about how someone couldn’t help but be nasty because of their childhood, I think about her. How despite being denied so much love and care, she chose every day to be better. She chose to be kind and loving.
I’ll miss having a hot cup of tea with her “the proper English” kind of course, hearing her soft British accent and warm laughter.
She’s someplace better now. Just felt like sharing that here. If you can, please pray that I make her funeral.