A Woman of Great Importance

Charcoal sketch, 
Annemie Odendaal
The most remarkable woman I ever knew, was my grandmother Anna. She was very wise and always gentle and kind. She never judged or spoke ill of anyone. I don't remember her talking much, but when she spoke, we listened.

Despite being a highly intelligent woman, she was content to be an exemplary, supportive wife and mother. 

Prov 31: The Virtuous Wife - Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom; and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

At home she ran the farming household super efficiently, kept the men in check, and ran a tuck shop on her own for the locals (she was very good at maths). 

I still fondly recall many a morning joining her in the homey, aroma filled kitchen as a kid on the farm. She would be churning butter from the early hours of the day, baking bread, and making a scrumptious breakfast for the men coming back from their early morning shifts at the dairy. How can I ever forget the delicious pulled beef and tomato stew over her special porridge. She loved the ocean, and joined us on our sea vacations where she would keep herself busy with endless crossword puzzles and help out here and there where needed, without being in the way.

Of course my fonder memories on the farm were of us cousins always being mischievous, jumping into the silos, landing on the tons of peanuts, or throwing thorns - which were abundant on the farm - in the walkway between the two houses, or pretending not to hear when we were called home for the night. She saw everything, but mostly turned a blind eye and smiled, letting the grand children from the city enjoy the freedom of farm living.

She also had a particularly interesting life, growing up in a most fascinating era of exceptional transformation - both technologically and historically. 

She experienced some things that hardly any other generation ever had the privilege of seeing. As a young woman she lived through the Great Depression, which resulted in the second World War. She grew up under exceptionally poor and desperate conditions. There was no running water from a tap, they had to get water from the river, no electricity, no money and no jobs. Telephones were only available after my dad was born.

A few years later she learnt that the first man landed on the moon! What an amazing day that must have been to realise the possibilities of new things that may still come. For sure a great time for a little ray of hope. From there on things started to snowball.

She witnessed the renaissance of technology where they went from telegrams via the post office, to witnessing the first computers becoming a household item. Excess and abundance was at the order of the day. What an extraordinary transformation she lived through!

There is a lot of wisdom to be carried over from generation to generation, If we only take the time to listen and learn. We are so quick to judge and think that someone is old, they don't understand the world, technology, or the pressures of modern society, because things were different when they were young. Things were always different when the previous generations were young!

Look what Socrates said about the youth: “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” That is still true today.

Most remarkable about her, was that I never heard her complain once in her life and she never was a burden to anyone. Even on her death bed at the ripe age of 86 years, she remained gracious and selfless, not complaining once, despite the slow and painful death that comes from heart failure. In fact, if you asked her how she was doing, she would still say " First class thank you". 

It was such a privilege to spend her last week alive beside her bedside, and hear her tell me wonderful stories about her childhood, my dad's childhood, and life in general.

If I could grow old as kind and gracious as her, I would be honoured and die happy, knowing what legacy I leave behind. 

I will miss her always.

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