Home > Australia, Life, Love, Social Commentary > The world needs more nannas

The world needs more nannas

With my Nanna turning 84 today, I reflect upon some of her wisdoms and how the world needs nannas more than ever.

Nanna was born in Poland, in 1926. She immigrated to Australia over 4 decades ago, with husband and son, to start a new life in a free land, where the fruits of one’s efforts were their own reward.

Her strength and cheerfulness doesn’t betray what a hard life she’s had. Communism. Starvation. Nazism. Being taken as a child and made to work on German farms. Outliving four husbands.

Yet, she can tell me that there were good German soldiers, who left their bread crusts for Polish children who otherwise wouldn’t have eaten that day. And that Russians were a good-hearted people, with a rotten government. And that to love and lose is better than to not love at all.

She marvels at the strength of the human spirit and that the world is filled with so many good people–that when her car broke down last week, people stopped to help. She gives. She loves her family. She works hard and believes that’s the key to a good and healthy life. She’s fiercely independent, except when she’s not (and that’s what family’s for). She bakes cakes, not only for me, but for my staff, because spreading a little joy and jelly-cake never hurt anyone.

So while our self-professed educated elite demand that we look backwards and forwards in despair and wear our global guilt with useless pride, Nanna has forgiven the past without lingering in it and enjoys the beauty in everybody she meets. She buys bacon from Russians, plays Pokies with Aussies and Ukrainians and eats sauerkraut with Germans. She takes only what she needs, and gives a lot more.

Happy birthday, Nanna. Kocham Cie. Sto lat!

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  1. Dan
    September 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Great article.

    I have had similar stories from relatives inPOland. Unfortunately all my grand[arents died before I was born so I didnt get that wisdom, though my Paternal Grandmother whom I did know very well into my teenage years had also some pretty shocking stories of life in Poland. During the war.

    Its a story that needs to be re-told for future generations.

  2. Dan
    September 3, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Hey Theresa, are you on twitter???

    • September 3, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Dan! Thanks for dropping by. I agree that the real stories need to be told – we’re losing them far too quickly. My kids never met any of those who had concentration camp numbers tattooed on their arms – it would be beyond their comprehension. My paternal grandfather weighed less than 40kg when he was released at the end of the war. I never met him, but apparently, the only way he survived was by tricking the guards into thinking that his friend was alive (he wasn’t) for a few extra days, meanwhile, claiming his food ration. My husband’s paternal grandfather died in the French Resistance, leaving behind a son he never got to meet.

      Remembering the stories isn’t about holding grudges, as my Nanna has shown, it’s just about being honest about the past and not repeating the mistakes in future. It also puts today’s gripes into context. The only thing that really upsets her is how complacent regular Australians (from all origins) have become about democracy – it’s not something that should be taken for granted.

      I am on Twitter as Law_scribe (methinks that’s right), but as I’m a techno-gumby, I haven’t done anything with it. If you’d like to share this article with others who value the stories of this era, please go ahead. I’d be happy for them to share their insights in the Comments box, too.

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