Pera Constance

My brother, my sister and I were the townies.

When we were young, we lived in Masterton – and that meant spending a weekend at Gran and Paw’s farm was something extra special for us. A weekend in the country.

We have very special memories of this time.

We remember swan plants in Gran’s the kitchen, hatching monarch butterflies.

We remember Gran’s kitchen was where all her grandchildren measured their height up against the wall – pencil marks right onto the paint.

We remember driving over those bumpy curbs you see in Masterton’s side-streets in the Orange Bomb – Gran’s Toyota Corolla, the only car I can remember her driving that wasn’t made by Holden. It was later bought by my Mother with a huge suspension issue on the left-hand side.

Gran had an amazing complicated kitting contraption, I can’t describe it to you, you did some sort of long swiping maneuver and out came knitting – but we do remember that it was great fun to play with when she wasn’t looking.

We remember playing her collection of ancient records , some of them old 78s – Dance of the Hours, Lily The Pink, Howard Morrison signing My Old Man’s an All Black and Mori the Hori (he doesn’t seem to do that one any more).

We remember prizes on the wall she won for her roses – which made driving Paw’s ride-on lawn-mover through her flower bed seem an even bigger horror (Gran was too gracious to mention it).

We remember her roast dinners, which, looking back on it, should have killed us all immediately. Peas, carrots and parsnips pressure-cooked until they were translucent, meat covered in fat, cheese sauce – all delicious. And the marzipan on her Christmas cake was two inches think, I swear. I have never tasted better.

But my strongest and favourite memory of Gran is, if we were staying at her house over the weekend, climbing into bed with her in the morning.

The three of us in her bed squeezed poor old Paw out the other side – he went off to make breakfast while we pulled up the huge thick eiderdown and dragged out the Dr. Suess books.

As far as I remember these were the only books we let her read us. She had big hardcover editions of The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who, I had Trouble Getting to Sola-solu, The Sneetches, many others.

Gran had a fantastic appreciation of the ridiculous, she loved a funny story, and Dr Suess suited her perfectly. She had a very distinctive reading style, a sort of clipped but very expressive delivery and a hooting laugh. I must have been 5 or 6 when I last heard her read these stories, but I remember them very clearly.

I now read the same stories to my daughter in the same way.

Gran personified boundless energy – and I guess this is why it is hard to accept that she is no longer with us. She seemed to never stop, she never even slowed. Sure she lived a long life, but she also seemed to fill every day of that life with irrepressible action.

Gran always looked forward, never back. ‘Right’, she’d say, and we were off.

She is an inspiration.