A big thank you today to contributor, Jan Robinson, who has reflected on some heartwarming memories of her Grandmother, along with the life changing legacy she bestowed on Jan.
Just what was the legacy and why does a silk kimono come into the story?
Read on …
A Grandmother’s Legacy.
I don’t yet have grandchildren, but when I do, I hope to inspire them.
I hope to make an impression that lingers in their psyche, so ingrained and subtle that they don’t even realize it exists.
But first, let me explain.
My grandmother told me her life stories over and over, in the annoying yet mindful way that the elderly have sometimes. With repetition they became known, like times tables learned parrot fashion, boring maybe, but never forgotten.
Some were stories from her twenties, when she lived on a Western Queensland property.
Picture the setting
It was the Victorian Era, when women wore corsets beneath high necked blouses and petticoated skirts. An era when entertainment meant home grown music and “the carpets rolled back” to a dance floor of bare boards.
A small tribe of aboriginals also lived on that property. I am unclear as to whether they were workers, or if they lived there because it was their land first, but most probably it was a combination of the two.
Tiby (a nickname bestowed on my grandmother by her husband and my Pop) went walkabout with them sometimes. I only remember stories featuring herself and her two aboriginal friends, but my mother says that Pop and her friends’ husbands also took part in the walkabouts.
In any case, I felt it was a very unusual thing for a young woman of English/Irish heritage to do at the time.
One walkabout morning they happened to be wandering along the train tracks when Tiby froze when a train came thundering towards her. With a desperate cry her friend managed to drag her from the tracks just in time. At that stage of the story she would pause, and with misty eyes that seemed to be looking into the past declare in a wobbly voice:
“She saved my life that day”.
Today as I replay her words in my mind, it is my turn to become misty eyed.
By telling me these stories my grandmother, consciously or unconsciously, gave me her permission to be adventurous and not to be shackled by convention.
It was her legacy to me
When Pop died and Tiby was well into her seventies, she started booking on cruises. We called it ‘her cruise boat phase.’
“I am going on the Oriana to the Orient” she announced grandly, not being one for shows of false humility.
Her return was littered triumphantly with stories of orchestras playing on board ship and oriental food adventures ashore. There were gifts of geisha dolls “for the china cabinet”, vinyl records of strange music with indecipherable lyrics and cool shiny kimonos that wrapped around my beanpole body and transported it to a private Orient.
She pooh-poohed the naysayers, cruising to more destinations in Asia and the Pacific, pushing the limits of age and infirmities. Her cruising adventures stopped on her own terms, when the money finally ran out.
An inherited travel gene … from walkabout stories or a silk kimono?
Although my brother and I learned our geography lessons the enjoyable way – from the back seat of the family car on extended road trips – our parents had neither the money nor the inclination to travel overseas. Even so, when I was twenty, travel became affordable and I started to travel solo through the U.K., Europe and Asia, never once wondering where the insistent desire to explore came from.
In retrospect I am quite sure it was hatched when a little Aussie girl wrapped herself in a silk kimono, and inspired by walkabout stories, imagined herself to be a traveller.
Now a woman well into my fifties, I have the opportunity to travel more and more, continuing on a path of independent budget travel with my husband. But I have started thinking lately, that when I am in my seventies and have grandchildren whom I can impress bore with my stories, I might just embark on my own cruise boat phase…
To the Orient – of course.
Bio: Apart from several years living in Perth and Melbourne and a nine month block living in the U.K., North Queensland has always been home base for Jan and her husband Marty. Thinking when their backpacking days were over they would eventually mature into more upmarket travellers, they slowly realized that they enjoy the fun of budget travel too much to make the transition. Jan can be found sharing their budget travel journeys, destinations and experiences at Budget Travel Talk.