When we asked Grandma why she didn’t have any hair on her legs, she insisted it was because she had worn stockings all her adult life.
The last time we saw her, she was a hundred and four. One year short of her last breath. The doctors wondered what she would die of. Her heart was strong. Her vital organs were all in perfect condition.
She had grown up on the diamond mines of Kimberly, lived through the great depression and seen the invention of the telephone, aeroplanes and motorcars.
We loved playing with her wrinkled hands and thin greying hair. We would lie across her lap to have our backs tickled with her bent fingers. She loved to sing. Our favourites were, “Poor Babes in the Wood” and “Chibbaba, Chibbaba.” Her voice trembled and shook but her pitch was perfect.
She gave her heart to Jesus and got baptised when she was ninety years old. The next fifteen years were lived just wanting to be with Him in heaven.
She lived with her only surviving daughter in Johannesburg, but would come to Rolleston Place to stay with us when it got too cold. David teased her non-stop about having a boyfriend. Rigby called her Granny Grumps and “Frilly-Brooks.” She did have some interesting underwear.
Her eyesight started to fail and arthritis got hold of her hands. In every other way she was still very much alive. She had an amazing sense of humour. When she started to fall and hurt herself around the house, her daughter put her into an old aged home. On one of our visits we asked her if she had found a boyfriend yet. Her reply was, “ Oh there are plenty, I just can’t catch the buggers.”
She never used anti-wrinkle cream or foundation. She ate well and never bothered about how many calories there were in a slice of bread. I never saw her jogging. She had eleven children and buried ten of them (one baby in a shoe box) one after the other. She lived to the ripe old age of almost a hundred and five, then fell asleep forever.
My great grandma on dad’s side lived to a hundred and one. On her hundredth birthday, a Queen’s representative presented her with a tree to plant in the forest of her choice. At the ceremony a man started digging the hole. She grabbed the spade from him and said, “Step aside young man, this is MY tree and I’m going to plant it.”
So much of who we are is genetic; hereditary. Our mannerisms, personality, way of speaking and our physical make up. That includes how wrinkled we get. So many hang-ups and addictions are passed down to us from our parents and grandparents. So are many of our gifts, talents and strengths.
Before we got married, I told Tony about the longevity in my family. I told him I might be around for a long, LONG time. He didn’t seem to mind.
I don’t have much hair on my legs. I have never worn stockings. Grandma didn’t have any hair on her arms either.
I was always curious about that.