Kevin’s Tribute to Grandma
Hello everyone. I’m Kevin Field. I am the privileged oldest grandchild and I had Grandma all to myself for three and a half years. When I was a wee boy, I often wondered what people thought about this tall woman, striding rapidly into town with a gaggle of grandchildren struggling to keep up. For some reason, this thought stayed with me till I was a young adult and was put into perspective when I heard second hand, a quote from Don when walking with Barbara, “Slow down, you’re not walking with your mother now”.
I walked many places with Grandma. It would be the river side of Fitzgerald Ave if going to Cleveland Street or as most expeditions were, into town. We would normally visit the Farmers department store which always used to have the delicious smell of roast cashew and peanuts wafting through the store. Sometimes Grandma would even buy some roast cashews if I was really lucky. Sometimes there were hurried trips across town to Ballantyne’s because a certain grandchild needed to go to the toilet and Ballantyne’s was the only place he would go. No demands that this toilet is good enough, she just did it. That was Grandma. Even as a young fella, I thought she was kindest grandmother you could ever have. It seemed to me that during the regular visits to the Fitzgerald Ave house, we would be asking Grandma if we could take home any number of trinkets that we had discovered in the house or shed. And she would normally say yes.
Staying over at Grandma and Granddad’s was special. There were National Geographic’s for Africa – many about Africa; plenty to explore and always breakfast in bed. Toast and marmalade and the sweetest, nicest tea. Somehow, the way she made it was just the way I liked it. And there were always scones on Sunday for when more of the family gathered.
There were never any favourites with Grandma – we were all treated the same and that was with kindness. She was non-judgemental, even when the older grandchildren struggled to play Christmas day cricket with the younger grandchildren because they had headaches or if they turned up at Fitzgerald Ave with bleached hair.
The last time I saw Grandma was on 23 February and unlike 4 September, where Grandma was quite philosophical about her potential fate that day and was more concerned with the new dinner arrangements, she was worried about her Christchurch family and whether they were all right. I was pleased to be able to deliver that news.
I realise the last few months of her life were a bit confusing after moving first to Nelson and then to Wellington, but I am pleased the Wellington family had the chance to be with her and to spend time with her.
And even though her health deteriorated in her 90’s, she still got to meet and get to know her seven great-grandchildren. I am pleased she was able to watch them at her house as they went about their routines, doing such things as scrubbing the bird bath, picking up apples or chasing the cat. I’m also grateful they got to know her as well.
So thank you Grandma. While I’m sad to say goodbye to you today, I’m happy to have had you in my life and that it was you who was that rock in my life.
One last thing. Ballantyne’s had small children’s toilets and that’s why I had to go there.