“Be Content with your lot and you’ll always be happy” Marjorie Briggs (Jiselle’s Nana)
My Nana,who has been the subject of many of my blogs throughout the years is turning 100 on 4 of July. My family and I will be flying down to Melbourne for her birthday celebrations, as will many others.
Nana is now living in a nursing home in Morwell in country Victoria. In the last few years she has needed some physical assistance but mentally Nana is as sharp as ever. Even though I have not seen her for some months I have heard she is still winning more games of scrabble than she is losing. I hope to have a crack at beating her when we visit next month.
As a little girl my most favourite place to be was at Nana’s and Poppa’s house in the now non-existent Victorian country town of Yallourn. The memories are rushing in and swamping me as I write this. I’m remembering her threats to wash my mouth out with soap for fighting with my brother Brett (she never did) to helping her make delicious vanilla slices with custard , Sao biscuits and lemon icing. I’m salivating just remembering how yummy they were.
There was the fire we sat and played cards by each evening, Snap and Seven were favourites. Before heading off to bed there was this amazing thing called ‘supper’, which meant hot milo and buttery toast or crumpets that would magically appear to ensure we didn’t go hungry during the night. I think this is where my love affair with my hotwater bottle began. Nana always had a hottie warming up my bed so it would be warm and snuggly for me when I hopped in. The best times were when I got to have Nana all to myself and didn’t have to share her with anyone. I never wanted to go home.
As I began to write this piece I thought it would be a good idea to touch base with Nana and see if I can get her divulge any secrets or words of wisdom that I might be able to share with you. I called her and asked “What is your advice to me to make it to a hundred and beyond?”
She answered “Keep Breathing”
Maybe the real answer should have been “Keep your sense of humour”. (Please read to the end of this blog for Nana’s dirty joke.)
I was determined to get her to reveal more such pearls so I pressed her a little more and her second tip was “Look after yourself”.
Nana was a prolific gardener and was eating organic food long before organic became a word we associate with food. She’s always eaten well, usually meat and three veg and always followed by dessert! Perhaps that was what she meant.
I pushed a little more and she offered her third tip. “Keep your brain active”.
I can certainly vouch for this one. She has always been a competitive, ruthless and very cunning scrabble player who can seemingly pull out a 50 letter word at game’s end and dash any thoughts that I may have had of victory. When she is not destroying someone at scrabble she is doing a sudoko or word puzzle. She’s also always been an avid reader who has devoured all kinds of books in record time all her life. In later years she has become a keen movie goer and still goes to the movies once a week with my aunty Val.
In summary Nana’s Pearls of wisdom and advice to aid us all in reaching a similar milestone are;
- Keep breathing
- Eat good whole food – especially dessert – every day
- Use your brain on a daily basis
On a more serious note this is what I think is Nanas secret and the gift she gives to us: Nana flows with life and doesn’t resist what it serves up. She has endured many losses in her life. She has outlived two husbands, two of her beloved children and countless friends and relatives. She grieves, she mourns, and she finds a way to hold them in her heart but doesn’t lose the joy of being alive. She is a true lover of life and savours each and every moment on this planet. Nana didn’t need to read a book on happiness to know that being grateful is a sure fire way to increase our sense of happiness and well being.
Without ever attending a mindfulness class or learning to meditate Nana lives the message of mindfulness each and every day.
“Don’t trouble trouble until trouble troubles you”, was one of her favourite sayings. She doesn’t hold grudges or brood on what has passed and she certainly has never wasted time ‘sweating the small stuff’. She taught me about the preciousness of the ordinary long before I discovered ‘mindfulness’ and began my own journey of discovery. I might not have her green thumb but she gave me an appreciation of the garden and the outdoors. She would always be pointing out the little things that slipped by my attention. The bird singing in the tree, the flower that had just burst into bloom, the little bug making its way carefully along a branch. Nana gets what it is to just ‘be’ and how important it is to not always be ‘doing’. She naturally understands what is most important in life in contrast to those of us caught up on the crazy treadmill, rushing from one thing to the next, busy with our to do lists and hardly ever stopping or even drawing breath.
My Nana not only inspires me but is an inspiration to all who have had the good fortune to cross her path. She is a much loved and admired woman and things haven’t changed since I was a little girl. Hanging out with Nana is still a super cool way to pass time. I’m really looking forward to partying with her at her birthday bash very soon.
Thank you for letting me share my Nana with you.
Nana’s dirty joke
Nana shared this with me at a dinner table when she was 85. For some reason it’s the only joke I can ever remember. This is how it goes:
Two old biddies were having a chat in the lounge room of their nursing home.
One asks the other “Do you ever get horny?”
“Yes” her friend replied.
“What do you about it” she asked her friend
“Well I suck life savers” the friend replied
There was silence for a few moments and then her friend asked
“But how do you get to the beach?”
End note – Recipe from my childhood visits to Nana
Sao biscuit lemon slice
One packet of Sao biscuits
Sandwich the custard between the Sao biscuits , smother with lemon icing
Let set – so yummy