Naturally, being a friend of and and other wonderful women who constantly make me remember why it’s important to be proud to be a woman, I’ve been following the Female Appreciation Month posts with, well, appreciation. I didn’t think I would have anything much to contribute, but tonight, I realised that I DO have something I want to blog about. I’ve studied the impact of the lack of male role models in young men’s lives, and I think that women are luckier than we realise in that we usually have beautiful strong women in our lives to act as mentors and models for our lives. And I want to acknowledge the women in my life who have shaped me and supported me and helped me become the woman I am. Most of the women I will talk about will never read this blog, but I think it’s still really important to acknowledge them.
So, Female Appreciation Month: the women in my life #1 – my grandma.
We were lucky enough to grow up with my dad’s parents living pretty much across the road for the first six or seven years of my life. My mum and dad both worked, and Grandma looked after us a great deal when we were little. Grandma had six kids, with a gap of nearly ten years between the last two. My dad was the second of the six, and my brother and I were two of ten grandkids born within a ten years of each other.
There are lots of reasons Grandma Croft is the first woman I’m blogging about. Perhaps the main one is because she was such a massive influence on so much of my life right now, in one very powerful way – she taught me to read and is the reason I LOVE reading. I don’t ever remember NOT being able to read, and I don’t actually remember learning. But Grandma used to read to us constantly, and when she and Grandpop crossed the country from WA to QLD with us when I was six, she read "Black Beauty" to me two and a half times, and I have been reading ever since. Reading is such a massive part of my life, influencing my career choice (first as English teacher, then, naturally, as teacher librarian), my "hobbies" in writing, editing and publishing, and the way I try to then influence my children by reading to them as much as I can. Maybe I would have been a reader without her, but I doubt I’d have that some deep love for it that makes it my first choice of relaxation, recreation and way of earning renumeration!
Grandma didn’t have the easiest life – six kids in a very small country town in tough times, after being in the armed forces during the war. She absolutely loved to garden, and managed to do so on the barest minimum of water in that dry Western Australian town. One of the reasons she loved North Queensland was because she finally had the water to do the gardens she loved! Her green thumb is NOT something I inherited (although Dad sure did, along with her love of growing roses), but I still remember her gardens, both in WA and QLD. My grandad’s family, which she married into, was not the easiest bunch either – wonderful people, but with an interesting history of their own, and a bit prickly. Grandma, from all accounts, held her own with Grandpop’s ten or eleven brothers and sisters, probably by being prickly herself, but as her grandkids, we never saw her as prickly. She was simply Grandma, who loved us, cooked with us, read to us, explored with us, and simply was.
Grandma sent me a batch of her homemade gingernut biscuits from WA (where she was living with my aunt at the time) to Rockhampton in QLD for my 19th birthday present, and I think it was then and still is the best present I’ve ever received in my life – Grandma’s gingernuts were a staple of my childhood, and one day, I’ll learn to bake them myself (attempts so far have failed, but I’ll get there!). Grandma died not too long after that, but I think about her a lot, usually when I pick up a packet of store-bought gingernuts, often when I’m reading. I miss her, fifteen years later, and I’m very thankful for her influence on my life.