Friday, May 28, 2010

Who is Jean?

Marion Jean Haw was born on the 7th day of March, 1923 to farmer parents Marion (Paynter) and Amos Haw in the cute little district of Koroop, near Kerang in Northern Victoria. Jean, as she preferred to be know, was the second eldest in a family of 10 children, four of which - twins Mary and May, daughter Mavis and son William -  died not long after being born. They are the bare bald facts of Jean's early life....

Grandma Jean sitting on the stool - what a cutie !

Jean is my much loved Grandmother, and it was so moving to hear the tributes of admiration spoken by her 4 children and 13 grandchildren at her funeral in October 2006 . She was so much more than a bunch of dates and figures - she was a living breathing epitome of love and service to those she cared about. Grandma Jean wanted to be a nurse and would have been very well suited to the occupation, however, she married my Grandpa, Clive - a local dairy farmer, in 1945 and began on a career of wife and mother instead. This was a career she undertook with as much care and perfection as she did everything - something that was reflected at her funeral. Her cooking which was second to none, her immaculate knitting and sewing, her breathtaking style (she was renown for it in her small hometown of Cohuna) were all discussed in reverend tones ! As was her encouragement of the wearing of singlets and petticoats in her grandchildren !!! (Advice I usually never heeded !!)

Clive and Jean on their wedding day in 1945

Grandma Jean spent her life in the service of others, firstly as a child caring for her younger brothers and sisters, then as a wife to a busy and successful farmer and then as mother to 4 vivacious children. By the time we grandchildren came along, Grandma Jean was well versed in wild kids, something that I am sure I was - I remember playing peek-a-boo under her petticoat, and being awfully cheeky !

Living through the war years and Great Depression made Grandma very resourceful and frugal - something we need to value today ! I remember drawing pictures on sheets of butchers paper she saved from her grocery shopping, and playing with tin toys, games and books that had belonged to my Aunts and Uncles (wonderful!!!), playing 'horse and carriages' with a pair of old stockings, not to mention being encouraged by Grandma in my teenage years to re-elastic my underpants to make them last longer - something a 15 year old in the late 80's found quite horrific ! Silly me !

Grandma Jean (centre) as a little girl probably around 1930

There was always a pot of home-made apricot jam on the breakfast table, freshly squeezed orange juice for morning tea, lamb chops and veggies with the divinest gravy the world has ever seen for lunch, and scrumptious, decadent goodies for afternoon tea at grandmas, all cooked on the wood fired stove with no temperature gauge.....she just knew how to cook !

Grandma's garden was oh so pretty - I used to imagine it was "New Moon" or "Green Gables" from the LM Montgomery books. A darling little green painted 1950's wooden home on the edge of a meandering river and backed by State Forrest, it had a blossomy orchard to play in, and all the delightful old fashioned flowers to fill ones world with colour and magic - hydrangeas, crepe myrtle, hibiscus, cottoneaster, elephants ears, violets, gladioli and of course, magnificent scented and velvety roses.

As for the things Grandma loved herself, well, I must say that Grace Kelly and British Royalty were both things that Grandma admired and followed with pleasure.......isnt there always the fanciful longing for elegance and beauty in every girl??

A beautiful and somewhat rare Haw family photograph, Marion and Amos with their 6 surviving children. My beautiful Grandma Jean is third from the right. Isnt she stunning? Grandma was ofton told she looked like the Queen, a compliment she no doubt revelled in !

Grandma Jean's life was not a perfect one, but to me as a child, it seemed so. Surrounded by family and friends, and living on a farm that should have been in a story book just seemed like such a pretty dream to me. Truth be told however, it was Grandma who made her world as beautiful as it was - she filled her garden with colour and beauty, she gave such flair to everything she did - the way she dressed, the way she cooked, the family events she hosted. I adored my Grandma Jean, and she taught me much about striving for the best in ones life, living to make the world a prettier, more beautiful place, serving other people gladly,  making the most of what you have personally and around you, and dressing with flair ! These are valuable lessons that I will always treasure as I remember my Grandma Jean - more than a name on a family tree, Jean was a woman who inspired and passed on so much of herself to her children and grandchildren......her legacy will continue on  down through the generations to come, no matter if they realise her impact or not, she will be there in their acts of kindness, service and love to others. Grandma Jean you are adored and loved still.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely tribute to your grandmothers. I must admit it brought a tear to my eye (Paul, but don't tell anyone). It is so important that we pass on all our stories to the next generations. I never new my own grandparents, it looks like I missed out on something special.


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