Friday, August 28, 2009

Lil - A fighting fury

(The above photo was taken during the summer of 77/78 - Me, Nan and my cousin on the beach at 'Red Rocks' - Phillip Island - I'm the one in the, as Nanna calls it, spoilt brat hat)

I had posted this blog previously, but had to take it down because of family reasons... I'm now re-posting it, while my Nanna lies in a hospital bed - since this was posted a month ago, she's had a minor heart attack and has diabetes. They are desperately trying to bring down her blood sugar level so she can go home... Her future is up in the air. Anyway... Here is the story:

*** Two of the most important and inspirational women in my life are, and have always been, my two lovely Nanna's. Nanna Nimmo - strong, stubborn and absolutely adorable (and she will get her own blog entry very soon). And Nanna Fin - warm, cuddly and outspoken. These two women have shaped me immensely and I love them both with all my heart. When we decided to move north again, my main concern was leaving them behind. They aren't spring chickens anymore, both are in their 80s, but they've kept battling along (at times against all odds)... until now. 

This year, my birthday was turning out to be a bit of a non event - the first in my almost 32 years on the planet. As you know Micko decided to lift my spirits with a puppy. We found him online on a dog rescue site and fell in love instantly. Left to fend for himself in the depths of winter and was rescued just in the nick of time. They doubt he would have made it through another night on his own.

I was so excited I had to ring Mum straight away to let her know. So, I'm on a massive high, thinking that although this birthday will be very quiet, it's also going to be totally awesome... Mum doesn't answer her phone but calls me back shortly after. She sounds a little down and flat and after I've told her my great news, she tells me the one thing I've been hoping to hell never to hear. Nanna Fin has liver cancer!

To give you a bit of background on this fabulous woman... She had a good, but at times, hard life. She was born during the depression and has endless tales of tough times. She married my Granddad, Jack, raised 5 children (4 girls and 1 boy) and lived in a simple house my Granddad built with his own two hands.

Around 1986-7 we were at their holiday house in Philip Island when we discovered the family home had been struck by lightning and burnt to the ground. Luckily, they were with us! They were supposed to be minding my cousins that weekend. They returned to their home to discover it was nothing but cinders and ash and along with the house went everything they owned. Unfortunately, they were under insured - both retired living on the pension. The house at Philip Island was sold and they lived in a caravan in the carport while the house was rebuilt, sucking up what little they had in their retirement fund.

Not too long after, my Granddad had a stroke. Physically he was fairly unscathed, but the stroke had affected his memory. He took up smoking again, even though he had quit years ago, only due to the fact he didn't remember stopping. Slowly his mind disintergrated and he became increasingly frustrated. At times, he would wake up in the morning and not even know who Nanna was. I can only imagine how scared he must have felt, not to mention Nanna! Due to his increasing short term memory loss, he didn't realise he was getting sick. He must have felt pain, but convinced himself it hadn't been around for long. Eventually the doctors discovered his body riddled with cancer. I remember going to visit him in hospital... He was agitated, had no idea what was going on and would often go missing. They had to tape a sign to his back that read, "I'm Jack Fin, return me to ward blah blah'. It was crushing! He died in the mid 90s in his own bed, surrounded by his children and Nanna. He was lucid when he passed and said goodbye to each of them.

Nanna got on with life... She is an avid Richmond supporter and each weekend you'll find her in front of the telly, blueberry wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other (she buys a pack every now and then so she can have one while she watches the Tiges). If we win (not often enough) she will get a stream of phone calls from me, my cousins and her friends singing Tigerland. She absolutely loves it! She is a total social butterfly... goes to club every week, heads out on their excursions and is always up for a chat and a cuppa.

She's often getting herself into trouble... opening her mouth before she's thought about what is about to spill out. It's not that she's purposely trying to offend you, it's more than she's missing the tact gene. Most of the time, its just because she couldn't think of the right way to say something For example: She when my brother got engaged, she said to my brother fiance - 'Oh, the ring... it's so tiny'. What she meant, was that it was it was dainty and delicate - not tiny. She actually thought the ring was stunning and suited my now Sis in Law down to a tee. She'd meant no offence whatsoever and would be horrified if she thought it had hurt their feelings. I find her lack of tact one of her most endearing qualities, the one that makes her such a character.

Nanna has had breast cancer not once, not twice but 3 times! She often jokes, 'how can you get breast cancer, when you don't have any breasts'. It seems that nothing could keep her down for long.. she always bounces back, better than before. And it's always seemed she was invincible! This time round, it's not breast cancer... it's in her liver. Not good! She is off tomorrow for a bunch of tests and I have everything I can possibly cross, crossed. I don't know what I'd do if I lost her... I really don't want to think about it. I know she's not going to be around forever, but I just can't imagine life without her in it. I'd never considered that she wouldn't be around to meet my children and I'm still hoping like hell she will.

I'm trying to be positive and send her good vibes and not get too far ahead of myself. You know what they say, you can't keep a good woman down... besides we don't know what the test results are. I don't want to be sad... she's still alive and kicking. So I sit here and type and shed a tear or two... and then I hear Nan in my mind and she's saying, in typical Nan style: 'Don't cry Karls, I'm not dead yet!' ***

Yesterday, Mum left work early and drove into Melbourne to go see Nan, as she'd taken a turn for the worst. The good news is last night she was feeling much more chipper and was enjoying a good laugh with her daughters. Today, I'm happy to say the outlook is a little brighter and with any hope she will be coming home next week. I've sent her a big bunch of Richmond Tiger's themed balloons... hoping to extend that beautiful smile on her face.

I know when the balloons arrive, Nan will be stoked. She'll have a good laugh and make some joke about our poor form. I imagine it will be a crack about being alive for another premiership... lets make it next year - and lets hope to god (or whatever is out there) she's still around!

The attached card, in true yellow and black style, reads 'They breed 'em tough in Tigerland.  Lily - a fighting fury'.  And that... she is!

1 comment:

jprp said...

your nan sounds like the greatest Karls, obviously you got a lot of traits from her. Am thinking of you and your family and especially nan xx


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