The love between a grandparent and a grandchild can be richly encompassing and nourishing. Jenny loved and adored her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Here are the three beautiful tributes that were shared on the day of Jenny’s graveside funeral—spoken with tears of love and heartache. You can read the full ceremony for their nana, Jenny, here.
I have been so fortunate, so very blessed, to have my Nana be a huge figure in my life, and for so long into my life. Her grandparenting was active and energetic – she was hands-on in everything we did together.
As many have noted, Nana was famous for her cakes. She had an impressive repertoire, but none matched the glorious strawberry hazelnut meringue. This was the queen of cakes. But the effort that went in to making it was commensurate to the experience of eating it. And yet every time a special occasion came up, we wheedled and pleaded… maybe coerced a little… and Nana relented. And her kitchen became a scene of shouting, occasional swearing, and spatula-waving. “I am never doing this again!” (Laura spoke this in her Nana’s Polish accent) she would say, every time. Pretty much each and every strawberry hazelnut meringue Nana made, at least as long as I can remember, was the “very, last, one I am ever making!” (again spoken in her Nana’s lovely accent)
Nana had a flair for the dramatic, so we knew that was never true. She was too generous with her time and effort. That generosity came through in so many ways:
On one holiday in Coffs, I asked to capitalise on her seamstress skills and make a skirt –I basically just knew how to thread a sewing machine, and Nana in her characteristic modesty claimed she hardly knew anything more (she very much did). But, with a little convincing – maybe a little coercion – she was up for the challenge. She gamely took off to Spotlight with me, spent ages picking fabric and thread, and not picking a pattern because a skirt is basically just a circle with a hole in it right? We spent two whole days spreading fabric all over her dining table, dining room floor, and living room and sewing… and then unpicking and sewing again – because it turns out a skirt is not just a big circle with a hole in it and I was making a circus tent. But, Nana persevered with my project. Nana was right there, crawling around on the floor with me, measuring and sewing and correcting my cutting angles and unpicking and sewing again – not exactly patient, but always loving, with enthusiasm and a sense of humour. We created something together that I cherished. Then she said she would never do it again. (This time she was right)
True to her Polish heritage, Nana showed her love through food, always making us grandchildren the best sandwiches – “sendviches”, as she pronounced it in her endearing accent – saving treats for us, and allowing us liberal access to the biscuit jar. And making amazing Polish food for us when we visited. When we spoke on the phone she always checked in with me, “are you eating well?” When I stopped eating meat, she was perturbed. When I decided to go vegan, she stopped asking me whether I was eating well and would ask instead “Laurush, are you eating?!” That did cut out a lot of Nana’s traditional food. But, with a little wheedling and pleading, and a little bit of coercing, she was convinced to try a vegan version of the very labour-intensive Polish treat, pierogi. It took some time to convince her this was possible, but as always, eventually she was up for it. I was delighted, flitting around the kitchen and probably making a huge mess, and Nana was waving her wooden spoon and declaring that this was “the last time I will ever make these!”
That was just one of Nana’s most endearing characteristics. She would be stubborn, pretend to be grumpy about something – but she always came through with cheerful acquiescence. From being convinced to head down to the beach for a glass of champagne so many evenings, to being convinced to travel to New Zealand – twice – she would go along with our ideas and suggestions and embrace the experience with humour, style and elegance.
As I have grown and changed, from a child so young I can’t remember, through to an awkward tween, throughout the turbulent teenage years, into young adulthood and beyond – even to introducing my own daughter into the world – Nana has been my ally, confidante, and friend. She made me feel special, loved, and listened to. Her home was my second home.
I have loved my Nana as an integral part of my family my whole life. I miss her. I will miss her so, so much. But I will cherish the precious memories of the many years and many, many experiences we shared. Her influence on me – especially remembering to be grateful for life’s small pleasures, for a cup of coffee, a glass of champagne, for health, and for family – won’t fade. I will hold her in my heart forever.
Dear Joanna, Jenny, Jen, bupcha, pra bupcha, but most importantly to me, Nana.
Here we are, at a point in our lives we knew would happen but at the same time didn’t want to believe.
I have such vivid memories of walking through that door and you were always happy to see me no matter what. Always thinking I’m under dressed and “how am I not cold”. Always taking the opportunity to try and feed me with some sort of delicious snack always at the ready.
I loved collecting my Michelin lunches before school, laying on the couch after school listening to you fry off some Perogi, and eating that cake at any opportunity.
I’m so glad I was able to spend so much time with you, going on trips and holidays, playing games and watching you cook. I have learnt so much from you and the older I get the more I realise it.
Something you would say to me is “life is full of zaskoczenie” meaning surprises. I always loved it, it’s something I come back to regularly. It reminds me to make the best of things even those outside of your control.
You and grandad always made me feel loved, you always listened and had time for me, you’re presence was warming, your smile was uplifting and your hugs were always so comforting.
I’ll miss your hugs, I’ll miss your tzasazkies, I’ll miss you, Love Charles
To my Nana,
You expressed your love with food – you always had the biscuit tin full for our holidays in Coffs and made your strawberry hazelnut meringue cake for our birthdays.
When you looked after Rachael and I when mum and dad went overseas I remember opening my lunch box to find 3 sandwiches – 1 savoury, 1 sweet and an extra sandwich in case I got hungry. I was on an elimination diet at the time, and you even looked up a cake to make especially for me. You came to Sydney multiple times to look after us when mum and dad travelled. When I got older and could stay by myself you would call me multiple times a week because you knew I got lonely.
Growing up we could rely on you to spoil us with ice cream at the Big Banana, buy us pyjamas for our birthdays (and even made the four of us matching Christmas pj’s one year).
We loved playing games with you. You always made time for Rummi, Mah Jong and Tysiac. You loved to bet and would be so vocal in your disappointment if the cards weren’t to your liking. I learned all the Polish swear words from playing cards with you. Nothing was too much for us grandkids.
Nana, you have given us such a gift in the home videos you made of our childhoods. You captured priceless moments and I am very grateful you did that.
I will always remember my feisty Nana, who loved a glass of champagne on the beach, a cup of coffee at a café and her family.
I love you.