I think often about my Granny, who it turns out has been a huge influence on many of us Taylor folk, one way or the other. The only thing I ever occasionally let myself feel sad about in relation to Granny is that I'd just love to sit down with her now, at 27, and have a good old chat about things. Now I understand a little more. Now I'm an adult. Now I've met more of the whole wide world, and consequently realised just how wonderful she was, not just as my Granny (for she was given instant 'wonderful' status ever since I can remember) but as a woman.
Of course, I never knew Granny as a mum, but from what I gather she managed 5 kids and a husband on a NSW sheep farm quite adequately, not to mention the governesses, the jackaroos, and the rest of the surrounding family. As a Granny, she was kind and strong, and somehow managed to make each of her 14 grandkids feel special to her. Until I was 10 or so, she lived just down the hill from us, so close that Mum was able to stand at the top of the hill and watch me toddle down to see me arrive safely in Granny's waiting arms. From there, she took me inside and I was fed shortbreads and hardbiscuits (a family recipe, an oat & golden syrup combination that are infamous), as well as allowed to help out with baking and making butter. I got sat on the edge of the kitchen bench while she went about this business, and was occasionally granted my very own little ball of new butter to put on toast, or eat then and there, delicious and creamy, popped straight into my little mouth.
It sounds a bit odd as a treat for a child, but I must say it was my absolute favourite thing. What I wonder about now is what her and I talked about, for I'm certain I would have chatted away happily with her for hours (genetic trait, the chatting- Granny was the best chatter I know) about all my secrets and thoughts. I imagine I may even have bored her with my chat, having since discovered that once kids figure out how to make themselves understood, they Do. Not. Shut. Up.
Growing past this rosy-cheeked child stage, I know I missed having Granny and Grandfather so close by when they moved into town. Our family moved into the homestead, and all the mystical places that had hidden secrets inside when Granny and Grandfather lived there were opened up and brought to light. Furniture was moved out and empty space left for our family to move on in. The 'good' lounge room stopped being a closed space in the dark, and Grandfather's dressing room stopped smelling of mystery and was instead painted blue, becoming a bedroom for my little brother Stuart.
Their new house in town became the place for Christmases and family get togethers, and while those were always special, it was the one-on-one times with Granny that I remember that house for. I cannot remember ever watching television there, instead we'd drink countless cups of tea and I'd read my book, or tell Granny about highschool, or whatever else I felt like chatting about. I can't remember ever trying out teenage rebellion on her; while I was a well-behaved girl, I had a truly awful temper with which I would constantly tear strips off my parents, but I'm pretty sure I never tried that out on Granny. One wouldn't.
As always with the passing of time and the gaining of maturity, on reflection I feel truly amazed by the legacy and impact Granny had upon me, and I don't doubt, all of the other Taylors I know. I think of her now as my conscience; when I act well, true to myself, when I help others or resist making an easy choice in favour of a better choice, I feel quietly proud of myself in the same way that I imagine Granny might. When I make a mistake, or a knowingly act in a way that I regret later, I shake my head, try not to beat myself up too much and instead think "Next time, I'll do better". That's what Granny has given me. I expect a lot of myself, which I know is a 'Taylor' trait with which we all have been blessed/cursed.
In the end, I only have a few tangible objects which have come from Granny. One is a green glass bead necklace, another is her copy of "Alice in Wonderland" from back when she was a Fraser instead of a Taylor, and the last, a happy discovery of just this month, is that the curtains that hang in my beloved van Queen Maude are made from scraps of sailboat fabric that Mum was given by Granny. So I have a little piece of something of hers to travel about with every single day. That is truly lovely.
Another treasure is a rhyme that has stayed with me for many many years, and I'm sure all the Taylors are reciting it in their heads while reading this. This Mabel Lucie Attwell poem hung on a towel rail in Granny's bathroom from since way before I can remember, and it will always remind me of having baths at her place, having my little body rubbed dry with a towel by Granny in her more limber days on her knees by the bathtub; it will remind me of the countless times I read it when visiting the toilet, moving the hip-friendly toilet seat out of the way. In a way I guess it is Granny, through and through. Tidying up after yourself and thinking of others, meeting your responsibilities head on.
Sending all my love, not only to Granny, but to all of us who love and miss her - Patricia Taylor, you're one heck of a lady to live up to, but all of us, we're doing our best (which I'm sure is all you'd really expect of us anyway).