Flicking through my diary last week I came across the date 26 March. The square had a little silver heart sticker in it. A reminder that it would be two years to the day that my Nan passed away. Though she was 96, her death was a shock to our family. If you knew my Nan you would appreciate the accuracy of this statement. She was well, happy, active. She had a better bloody social life than I did. At the time she was looking forward to an upcoming lunch at Parliament House that was to celebrate her many years of tireless service to the Forum Communicators. Give my Nan a microphone and she had the room. Smart, funny, interested and interesting, I’m sure plenty of people have nice things to say about their grandmother, but Nana was one of the best kinds. She was a wonderful conversationalist and we both shared a love of writing, books and ABC television. For someone who was so well informed her love of Home and Away was a little disturbing so she wasn’t all perfect.
The thing is, I inherited Nana as my Nana when I was in primary school. I’m not sure how old I was and it doesn’t matter, but I wasn’t biologically related to her in the sense that we don’t share the same DNA. This has never once been a thing for me. I remember towards the end of our IVF journey, just before I fell pregnant with Charlie and I was utterly desperate to have a child. The pain of infertility had me at breaking point and I was numb with sadness whilst simultaneously pissed off at the universe. I was losing myself in the process and when I was at my most vulnerable I begged MM to agree to donor eggs. I wrote about it here once before. I could not have cared less if I had a baby and it wasn’t my egg, I would carry that baby, it would have my blood and I would give birth to it and forever be a mother. As it happened, and according to Dr M, Charlie was probably my last egg so we never did go down that path, but it was a path I was prepared to walk.
Family is so much more than DNA. This I know to be true. Biology was never my thing, I failed it in high school but this is probably because I downright refused to dissect a cane toad. There is a certain irony to this in that my sister is an ex School Teacher (Art and what do you know, Biology) and it was Science that got me Charlie so for this alone you’d think I’d have a greater appreciation for the subject. Maybe if they dropped the toad part of the curriculum I’d be more inclined. Anyhow, digressing. My family are mostly normal. Not crazy, dysfunctional in a Proudman kind of way and not perfect like The Partridges either. We catch up for the usual family reasons, we share cat videos via FaceBook and we have been known to debate politics, religion and who cooks the best lasagna (not me.) Of course we have our differences but there’s no conflict that wouldn’t be out of place on some crap episode of Neighbours (or as Nan would prefer, Home and Away.) Families don’t come with a set of key performance indicators. I think for the most part, we are all just making it up as we go. My family is a bit like the friendship you have when you can pick up from where you left off. We love each other and as well we like each other. Is there a hallmark card for that?
Only recently my sister and I were having talking about some stuff, she was trying to figure something out and she said to me that when she’s feeling a bit meh about things she asks herself “What would Nan do?”. It wasn’t so much that Nana had an answer for everything but she had a way in which she could calm a messy head. I will be forever be grateful that Nana saw me finally fall pregnant and was able to meet Charlie whom she called spirited. I count myself fortunate that I got to be her grand-daughter. She already had a few grandkids so I was a bit of a ring in but never did it feel that way. Mostly I felt lucky.
These days I am even more blessed that Charlie has the family I have. I know they say you don’t choose your family but I don’t necessarily agree with this and deep down I think Charlie chose us. Lucky again.