“It’s a long way to Tipperary, It’s a long way to go. It’s a long way to Tipperary To the sweetest girl I know! Goodbye, Piccadilly, Farewell, Leicester Square! It’s a long long way to Tipperary, But my heart’s right there.”
No one sings this song anymore. And Pooh bear is turning 90. That’s outrageous. It was only the other day he was ‘now-we-are-six.’. My smallest just turned 7. Yesterday she was a baby and I was still a startled, where-did-you-come-from new mother.
Now I’m 41 and I can’t find anyone who remembers Maya the Bee.
And I don’t have any grandparents. Not anymore.
Time is a mischievous and precious and terrible thing. You think you have so much of it and then suddenly you don’t. When you do find some, it’s often hard to know what to do with it before it whizzes away again or people trample on it. It gets juggled and wiled and frittered and wasted and used. It gets made the most of and it gets lost. It gets pushed aside and regretted. It gets washed in nostalgia and polarised by memory.
The most terrible thing about time is that it’s so damn short. One day, it runs out altogether and everything stops.
I know this is a sad take on things. But I am sad. My grandmother’s time just ran out.
Mary (Meame) lived next door to me for my entire childhood. She gave me sugared apple in an earthenware bowl and dry ginger ale in cold metal cups. She cut up her vegemite toast into tiny squares clumped with butter. She had a pot of BBQ shapes (addictive biscuits she called them) and another jar of chocolate eclairs or lemon sherbets, country mints or morella jubes.
With her and my late Grandfather Jimmy, I watched “The Good Old Days” on Saturday nights. She took us – her grand daughters (she had eight of them, no grandsons) on long walks. She sang us, “It’s a long way to Tipperary” while we marched through the paddocks of her childhood at ‘Redlands’ in Plenty. She helped us search for Lyre birds in the rainforest. She played charades with us on New Year’s Eve. When my friends and I seanced up a ghost and scared the bejesus out of ourselves, we ran to Meame for comfort (Mum just thought it was funny). She once yelled at a plover that came close to my head and startled me with her love. She never yelled at us.
She made me the train cake for my birthday and knitted colour block jumpers for us all. She found Saturdays disappointing and loved blue. She had no time for people too big for their boots and she hated the word ‘fart’. Her nails were perfect and painted bright. She had a yellow swimming cap and lovely shirts. She wore jeans and laughed all the time and called me a ‘funny little notion’. She loved hydrangeas and bamboo and I will never see a Verbernum snowball tree without thinking of her.
She was very beautiful, right until the end, when the jar of jubes ran out with her time.
And now I find it hard to believe she’s gone. “But you were just here,” my brain keeps thinking, “You were just here.”
We all have to do this; this time thing. This sadness thing. As much as we hate it, death is part of life and if time went on and on and on we’d end up hating it too.
But if we all just eat Country Mints, remember Maya the Bee, knit jumpers, embroider cushions and sing Tipperary, perhaps we can get time to slow the heck down at least a bit.
Mary Flexmore Shadforth (nee Page) 3rd September 1925 – 29th October 2016
Beloved and missed.