Friday, December 16, 2011

Nanna Jean

Ive been wanting to write this post for ages, but put it off, forgot about it, didnt know where to start... But tonight Ill finally get it done. I wanted to write about my Nanna, who passed away this year. She was a big part of our lives and was often the reason that our family got together, so it was a big loss for our family. Its only fitting that she gets her own blog post - she would have been really proud that Id had built this blog up and would have loved reading it! She would have had no idea how to find it, or even how to turn a computer on, but being someone who lived through a world war, after 90 years, why on earth would she ever need the internet anyway?

Nan was awesome, I can confidently start this post with such a statement. She was a real character, who never ceased to bring laughter whenever we were with her. Sometimes we'd have our head in our hands because of something she said - she was a brutally honest woman, who was hysterical when she wasnt suffering from foot in mouth when talking about you. She once asked my little sister when the baby was due... She wasnt pregnant. She was about 19. She could also never really understand about my degree at university, which was sports science. She was proud as punch of me, as neither of her kids had gone to university, and as far as I knew, neither had her parents. My cousins never finished uni, rather went off to be successful in other things. Nevertheless, when I finished, the photo of me in my regalia took pride of place on her wall. Apparently she showed the picture of me, graduating from uni to everyone who came around. I never saw her do it but Im told she did! As proud of me as she was, she still didnt understand what my degree was. She thought I just ran around playing sport all the time. When we told her that I had the same degree as my mother (a bachelor of science, just different majors) she told me she didnt realise that I was getting a "real" degree. Whenever Nan said anything like this, everyone sniggered. Cept the person she was talking to of course - though as we all grew up we all knew what she was like and didnt really get offended, it became more of a "nanna-ism" which got laughed off, but then talked about later. "Can you BELIEVE Nanna said that?!", Dad would laugh, Mum would look over and pretend to be concerned and say "girls......" but we all knew it was ok.

It wouldnt be an Edwards photo without someone pulling a stupid face... Usually its Dad.

The main thing I associated with my Nan was her food. She was the master of soups and would be forever showing up at home or at work with ice cream containers filled with pea and ham, or vegetable soup. Sometimes we got pumpkin, but the others were most common. I loved them, I used to ring her up and ask her if I could have some for when I went back to uni, and she always had some for me. As she got older, cooking was her way of feeling useful. There was alot of things she couldnt do, and relied so much on Mum and Dad to do some things for her. But she never really needed anyone to cook for her - that was her thing, and no one was going to do any better in her kitchen, than her. You only ever had to tell her once, what you liked and whenever you were home she would bring it around! My sister and I said we liked her chicken a la Karl, a recipe from an West Coast Eagles football club recipe from Karl Langdon, and so that was alwyas being bought around. It was like that for everything though, I told her I liked the Night Magic line of toiletries from Avon, in passing, all of a sudden I got it every Christmas and birthday for years. However unlike Night Magic, no one ever got sick of her cooking. It was her thing and she was good at it. Some would say she was good at burning it too, but its what we all grew up with and so to all of us, it was the best. 

My older sis and her daughter, who is definately an Edwards...

Nan used to burn the carrots in the roast  every time. I remember as a little kid going there and my parents joking about the burnt carrots. But they were really tasty carrots, and the one time she didnt burn them when I was really little, I had to ask what these orange things on my plate were, I really didnt know. 

On holidays with the Edwards fam.
It was Nan who introduced me to having salt on my eggs, and butter on my toast. As far as Im concerned, boiled eggs must have salt on them, and that because at Nannas place, thats how we had them. These eggs went on toast, which always had butter. When I was younger I didnt know the difference between butter and marg, but I knew that Nannas toast tasted different to Mums. One day Mum bought out toast with butter on it, I ate it, and then asked where Nanna was. Mum told me she didnt know, probably at home, why? Because this toast tastes like Nannas toast. I didnt pick up on all of her eating habits though, I always thought her putting salt on oranges weird. Now it makes more sense, but I still dont do it. I do eat Kraft cream cheese spread on apples though...

Mum married an Edwards and look what happened!

To Nanna, the family was the core of her existance. She used to get snarky at us if we didnt go and visit her when we were in town, and if we didnt keep in touch she'd dramatically tell the family we werent getting a christmas card from her that year, though as far as I know, we all always got one. I used to always write her postcards whenever I was away - She loved to know what we were all up to, and always wrote her friends letters, and she never liked it whenever any of us went away for a long time. The least I could do was write her a postcard, and it became something I always did when I was away, everytime. She got cards from all over Europe, and Australia, and was always stoked when she got one. Her passing away hit home when I was away in Indonesia and then in Melbourne. Id walk past a tourist shop and remember I had to write her a postcard, but then remembered that she wasnt with us anymore, which was always a difficult thing to remember...

Cousin and Sister at Christmas
When she got sick, everyone pretty much rushed home, and spent hours by her bed. Right to the very end she was the high spirited woman we all knew and loved, bossing us around telling us what to do with her magazines and crosswords, asking us what the answers to the crosswords were and complaining about the hospital food. There were so many people in town who came to see her and bought her things, she had a million magazines, bags of her fave lollies and the hospital room was like a florist. She had all the pics of the family through the room, and the same people in the frames on her wall by her side 24/7. We all had enough time to prepare ourselves for her inevitable passing, but it wasnt easy. It never is. My aunty asked me, if she couldnt get through the eulogy, could I do it? Of course I said yes, and Im so thankful that she was composed and spoke beautifully, because I could not have done it, my sisters n I were a mess, I dont know how my aunty held it together. Karen wrote such a nice eulogy, and I learned more about Nanna from before my time. This is what my aunty Karen said about her mother:

Jean May Hutchinson was born in Mosman Park in March 1921, she was educated at Mosman Park Primary, Princess May Girls School and Fremantle Tech where she was dux of her year. During the war she joined the Air Force and it was there she met a blonde headed soldier George Edwards whom she married. On a trip to Adelaide to organise the wedding she pointed out a church to her friend, her friend told her that it was the church that the posh people got married in. That’ll do said mum and it did. After the war and our father’s farm was sold they moved to Perth and lived in Cottesloe. In 1953 we moved to Katanning. She was active in the community and was on many committees, the Arts Promotion group, the library and the Miss Australia Quest to name a few. She loved to socialize and entertain and held charity events in her home to raise funds. She supported out sport and was a very proud mother when Adrian played for her beloved South Fremantle and rarely missed a Wanderers game in the early days. She was a keen supporter of the West Coast Eagles and hated to miss a game on the TV.

She loved to read and do crosswords.

She loved classical music, ballet and live theatre and we were often in Perth for concerts, it was necessary for our cultural knowledge she said.

She loved her grandchildren Bobbie, Brett, Jade, Jacqui and Jenni and was so proud of their achievements. She had 2 great grand daughters Ashleigh and Courtney who delighted her and she was a great friend to Barbara, Trevor and Grant.

She loved flowers and working in her garden and had a large array of pot plants.

Her favourite colour was purple and mauve.

She was fiercely independent and when we finally convinced her to use a walking stick she would either leave it in the car or the shops.

She also loved going on holidays and trips with her friends.

Birthdays and Christmas.

One of her greatest joys was cooking and when Adrian and I were at school our friends all wanted to come to our house because there were always homemade cakes and biscuits to be had. I wanted to go to their house because they had granita biscuits from the shop. There was always a cake or sweet for anyone who was not feeling the best and she never arrived at my house without something she had baked. I think that one of my overriding memories of our mother would be her in the kitchen surrounded by the wonderful aromas of the food she had cooked with love for us but sadly “the kitchen has now closed”.

When they played "Time to say goodbye" by Andrea Boccelli my sister and I actually laughed - WHY this song, it will make us cry on any day of the week, if we couldnt hold it together through the start of the service we were never going to make it through this song, and we didnt really. No one did. She was buried next to Pa on a beautiful warm day surrounded by alot of her friends, family and people who knew her.

Writing this and reading Karens eulogy again had made me see that Im really similar to Nan... Which Im really proud of because she was a fantastic woman who everyone loved, and who is still missed so much. Ive got her old cooking notebook, with all her newspaper and magazine clippings, as well as hand written recipes. Im very lucky to have that... as well as being very lucky to have such an awesome lady as my Nanna.



  1. Wow Jac - awesome job - i'll always treasure your memories expressed so beautifully here. Mum

  2. That's such a lovely, emotive post, I've actually got tears in my eyes. Families are held together from the head down (I hope you know what I'm trying to say!)

  3. I know what you mean Anna! That was surely the case for our fam, but my little sister and I are pretty militant in our demands of the fam getting together for christmas so that will help lol

  4. Jac Karen told me not to read this with out a tissue, I needed the box as you can imagine. Your post is beautiful and I loved reading it, I to cannot listen to that song with out getting upset and I have it in the car so it comes on every now and then and the girls tell me to turn it of because I get upset but I let them know I am remembering nana and everything that was so wonderful about her. I may live a long way away but I miss her and everything she was to our family. OK Keyboard is flooding now!

  5. I knew that you'd struggle with this one Bob! I haven't listened to it since the funeral, will leave it a while still I think!