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one hundred years wasn't enough

My grandmother Daphne as a baby, with her mother Pansy (her real name was Emily but everyone called her Pansy). Taken in London, November 1919.

My grandmother Daphne as a baby, with her mother Pansy (her real name was Emily but everyone called her Pansy). Taken in London, November 1919.

the light, the season, 

is fading. 

what will be left by winter?

what will be left by tomorrow?

will our family be one person down,

without the one whose heart started

before the guns of the Great War

fell silent,

whose breath spanned two centuries,

whose soul knew many homes.

I wrote the lines above as the sun set last Monday night after hearing the news earlier that day that my beloved grandmother, who I spent three hours laughing and doing crosswords with only a few weeks ago, had had a small stroke and was fading.

I went to say goodbye to her last Wednesday. And on Saturday evening, a week out from her 100th birthday, she passed away. We had been anticipating her 100th as a family with great joy - we even had a letter from the Queen, all ready to go. So it hasn’t been the week we thought it would be, though it has still been a celebration of a long and fruitful life.

But it is also, to use a well-worn phrase, the end of an era.

We were so lucky to have her for so long. But that doesn’t make losing her any easier. She is irreplaceable. It feels strange to now be living in a world without her when, until a week ago, she had always been here.

How lucky I was to have her as a grandmother, and what a shining example she was of how to live well and authentically. I adored her sharp wit, her endless fascinating stories, her cooking, her affinity with plants, her love of nature. She taught me to cook, to sew and to play cards. She indulged every one of my silly childish whims but she always treated me like a grown up. She encouraged my love of writing and storytelling. When my book came out, she was in the front row at the launch and she read the whole thing, with a magnifying glass.

I will always cherish the memories of her indefatigable spirit, her sense of fun, her generosity, her quiet conviction, her pragmatism, and her fierce independence. Sometimes, when I was growing up, I felt so different from the rest of my family, convinced on some occasions I had been swapped with another baby at the hospital. But then I would think about Ma and her mother, and the kinds of women they were and realise ‘ah, that’s where I get that from’. I am proud to think that both their spirits live on in me, somehow.

Without her influence, I know I would have been a very, very different person. I am so grateful.

All of the above I told her while I sat with her quietly last Wednesday, holding her hand and stroking her hair. But I wish I had told her these things more often while I still had the privilege of being in her company.

So let this be a timely reminder for you, dear reader. Tell your loved ones you love them. They really won’t be here forever. Even though, in Ma’s case, it felt like she would be! I’m so glad Tom and I moved back to Australia when we did and that I got to spend lots of time with her these past few months. Those memories are now very precious indeed.

me-and-ma-philippa-moore

Happy 100th birthday Ma. As far as I’m concerned, you made it.

I will love you always.

***

Daphne Lucie Elizabeth Moore
11 May 1919 - 4 May 2019

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Me with a pencil case I wish I'd bought in Typo, Melbourne Central, on a too-brief visit in June 2013.

Me with a pencil case I wish I'd bought in Typo, Melbourne Central, on a too-brief visit in June 2013.

Now that the redirect on my old site finally seems to be working, I thought I'd write a quick post to say welcome to my new corner of the web!

If you're thinking "WTF Phil...I don't visit your blog for a few months and you've just...moved?!" then please visit my FAQ and fill yourself in there. I think I pretty much covered everything!

Now that my near-10 years at Skinny Latte Strikes Back is at an end, I'm really excited about the new directions I'm going in and keen to share it all with you.

The biggest news is that my husband and I have moved back to the city, after nearly three years out in the country getting a much needed change of scene and perspective. I'm beginning to think that there are two types of people who leave London (and perhaps this applies to all big cities the world over) - some that leave and never return, and others that leave, come back and then never leave again! I suspect Tom and I might be the latter camp...but never say never.

As the last of the boxes is unpacked, I feel more like myself than I have for a long time. The canvas is blank again and my paint brushes are itching to be used. 

There's so much to share with you all and it's coming soon. Thank you for your love and support and patience. I hope you'll continue to share the journey with me.