THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU GAVE US
BY LUKE LAMBDEN
My Nanna passed away on August 6, 2023. We lost someone so amazing. But this isn’t about what we lost, but the opposite. This is about what she gave our family and the memories she left us. She also left a request to her family. Although she did not have the strength to send the text herself, she got her daughter to send her request:
She wants to make sure that we are always kind, look after each other and have lots of laughter and happiness.
Nanna of course did not just request this life for us. She taught us. These lessons are the memories she left behind. My Dad (Doug), Aunty Kristen, Uncle David, and Uncle Scott share stories of when Nanna was kind, looked after someone, provided laughter, and provided happiness.
Kind by Doug (The Oldest)
She was always kind, especially to her family
Nanna couldn’t have been more kind, especially if you were one of her own. Everything she earned or had would go straight to her family. Being kind was what made her happy. She showed her kindness by always sticking up for the family even if we were in the wrong.
This was seen in ‘The Crown Larger Incident’.
The neighbours were not very nice people. They did not like the noise that Poppy would make while working in the shed. They said it was ‘excessive’. Nanna said it was ‘calming’. This led to a very long dispute between the households.
One hot summer’s day in 2003 Doug and David were in the backyard having one or ten Crown lagers. They were minding their business when the nasty neighbour popped his head over the fence and, unprovoked, started spouting obscenities about Nanna and Poppy. Words soon turned physical as the neighbour turned his pressure washer on the completely innocent pair. As a result, a bottle miraculously flew over from Nanna’s backyard to the neighbours (for legal reasons nobody was hurt, nor did anyone have the intention to hurt another.) Nanna heard the commotion and promptly rushed over.
After listening to what the neighbour had to say, Nanna completely ignored logic and said ‘It’s not the kids’ fault. It’s how the bloody Crown lagers are shaped. It was just a slip.’ Her family could never be in the wrong. The next day her world-famous chocolate pudding somehow made its way to the neighbour’s doorstep. On it was a note that read: ‘Sorry that the Crown larger bottles are poorly designed.’
Nanna was fiercely kind in every way a person could be. She showed kindness to her family. She showed kindness to those she didn’t like.
That’s what she gave us.
Looking after by David (Third child)
She was there for us 24/7
It was a freezing cold wet winter in 1990. David, Doug, and the entire Wodonga Bulldogs Football Club were at a house party. It started on the Friday. It ended on the Sunday. Eventually, after the cops (who were also enjoying the party) called it time, the party dispersed. Doug and David, being the responsible young adults they were, decided not to drive back home.
After the hours-long trek, the boys who were nearly frozen to death, got home at 4 pm. Poppy was not happy. ‘Shut up. You idiots better be right for work in a couple hours!’ Poppy yelled from the bedroom. The duo had to be at work in a mere four hours and only made it to the living room floor in front of the heater. ‘You boys better not be using that damn heater!’ Poppy knowingly exclaimed from the warmth of his bedroom. This was followed quickly by an ‘Oh Harold’ and shuffles of slippers as Nanna in her trademark dressing gown came to save the day.
Nanna came out to check on her troublesome pair. They looked like two seals rolling around unable to get up. ‘Would you boys like some tea?’ Nanna asked. She had already made them both a cup just how they liked it. Because the boys were so inebriated, they were unable to lift the cups themselves. She waited till the tea was just at the right temperature and held the cups to their mouths as the boys sipped away. She was not done with the tea.
‘Would you boys like a pie?’ Nanna offered. However, little did the boys know she had already put two pies in the oven, and they were ready to eat. Unfortunately, the boys were still feeling the effects of their three-day bender and could not function enough to consume food. So of course, Nanna thought the reasonable thing to do was, put the sauce on the pies, cut it up and spoon-feed her two sons in their twenties.
No matter how early. No matter how cold. No matter how stupid we were. She looked after us.
That’s what she gave us.
Laughter by Scott (Youngest child)
She nearly passed out laughing
Nanna, Poppy and their four kids were driving to Cairns from little old Wodonga in the winter of 1980. The trip was roughly 28 hours. Poppy did not like stopping the car and though the kids protested, a pitstop would not come. However, eventually, Nanna gave in. ‘Harold, pull over near the snow.’ she commanded. Poppy listened to her of course. As soon as the car stopped, the kids poured out of the car and rushed to play in the snow. That’s when the great snowball war started.
It was an intense battle. Alliances were formed and broken. It was every man for himself. The kids were so distracted fighting each other that they did not pay attention to the biggest threat. The silent assassin that was Nanna. She had built a huge, firm snowball ready to strike at just the right moment. It had looked like Scott was going to take the victory. He stood victorious over his fallen siblings. With all the confidence in the world, he began to boast. That’s when Nanna threw the shot to truly end the war. Although Nanna had no coordination, the ball hit her target. It had hit Scott right in the crown jewels, and he fell to the ground. The family laughed about the war all the way to Cairns.
The laughing continued at Cairns and on the way back to Wodonga. Every day with Nanna laughing continued.
That’s what she gave us.
Happiness by Kristen (Second child)
It was the simple things that made her happy
When it comes to happiness, there is not one story that could do Nanna justice. So many things made her happy and it radiated to all the people who were lucky enough to know her.
Her greatest source of happiness was her immediate family. The family she so proudly nurtured. She had four kids who could do no wrong, nine grandkids who could not be more loved and two great-grandkids who had the best great Nanna in the world.
One of her happiest recent days was when her fifth grandkid got married in Wagga Wagga. It was hot and a long drive, but despite being sick, Nanna would not miss it for the world. Not only would she not miss the wedding, she would not miss the fun of the wedding. Although she was recovering from a broken leg, that didn’t stop her from being the last one on the dancefloor.
If it was not her immediate family that was bringing her joy, it was her ridiculously large extended family and equally large friend group. They all flocked to Wodonga to surprise Nanna for her 60th birthday. The venue had never seen so many people and probably never would again. Despite the entire town being there, Nanna somehow got around and talked to everyone. She got her joy from knowing everyone, their problems, dog names, kids’ names and of course their gossip. She never forgot a single detail she was told because to her, that knowledge was gold.
The people she surrounded herself with were the source of her happiness. To the people that surrounded her, she was the source of happiness.
That’s what she gave us.
Thank You by Me (Sixth grandchild)
Nanna was a stubborn fighter. The doctors would tell us to say our final goodbyes because they expected she wouldn’t make it through the night. That lasted a whole month. This was great in one sense, we had another day, hour, minute and second with someone we just did not want to say goodbye to. However, it also sucked because we had to say our final goodbyes so many times.
One night when she had a bit of a dip in health and things weren’t looking good, we once again said our final goodbyes. This one was a lot more serious than the rest. My mum gave a goodbye I will never forget, and I couldn’t agree with her more. Mum thanked Nanna. For giving her my dad, the best man I know. For giving her my sister. For giving her me.
My mum said it perfectly. If I could talk to Nanna right now, I would thank her for so many things. Like mum said, for creating the best dad a son could have. For kindness. For caring. For laughter. For happiness.
That’s what she gave me.
Thank you, Nanna.