It has taken me 3 days to be able to sit down and write this. Three days filled with memories, sadness and finally a sense of peace.
She had wanted to die for many many years.
It became even harder for her when my grandpa died 3 years ago.
My grandmother was a refugee.
Her and my grandpa came to Australia from war-torn Latvia on a boat.
They came to Australia in the hope of making a better life for themselves.
Whilst living in nothing more than a tent in the refugee camps of Uranquinty NSW, my father was born.
My grandpa had to work in Sydney, so my grandma spent a lot of time on her own in an unfamiliar country, without knowing much english.
Can you even imagine it?
They eventually moved to Victoria, and made their home in Heidelberg West, where they lived until they became too ill and frail to live anymore.
When it came to selling that house, I couldn't even bear to go there. I wanted to keep in my head the memories I had as a child who stayed there, had adventures there, and most of all, learnt about my grandparents lives.
I am so lucky to have heard their stories.
My grandma was always the most beautiful woman in the world to me.
She told me she had been a model in Latvia.
I believed her.
She told me all the boys used to try and win her heart.
Embellished truth or not (!!) I loved to hear it.
I especially loved to hear about how her and my grandpa fell in love (despite the age difference!!).
She used to always tell me how beautiful I was too and how I should be an actress or a singer.
Unfortunately I can't sing. Not like Ma. She truly had a magnificent voice.
It's funny though. One of the first things she said about David was that he had a good voice and he should be a singer. She told him he should be on the radio.
She also told him she liked his sausage-which she will never live down! (Ma's english sometimes wasn't that good. And she couldn't understand why her complimenting him for the BBQ sausages he had just cooked her sounded so funny to the rest of us!!)
One of the most significant memories I have is of trying on Ma's ball dresses. I reckon every time I went over there I was itching to get those dresses on! They were just so beautiful, and I could pretend I was a princess, or someone royal. They took me to another place, another time, and I felt grown up. I would drape myself in her best jewellry, and sometimes she even let me wear her lipstick and perfume!!
I don't know what happened to those dresses.
Ma always wanted me to have them.
I used to go and stay at Ma's in the school holidays. I loved it!
Waking up in the morning, I would head out to the kitchen where my grandparents were always up making porridge. They would make me eat a bucketload.
In fact, they would make me eat a bucketload of whatever they served up!
They would talk to me in a mixture of Latvian and English. I could understand both languages. Languages actually come fairly easily to me and I wonder if it is because I grew up listening the the various languages that my grandparents and great-grandmother spoke. Ma would often speak to me in German or Russian.
I have often pretended I couldn't understand what they were talking about, when really I could. They would switch to Latvian if they were talking about me. But I would be listening to every single word.
On my wedding day, Ma was the first person I embraced after the official ceremony was over. I could see how proud she was of me. We didn't need words. I was finally in a beautiful dress, with lipstick and perfume and I was marrying the man that I loved with our precious Ryley.
I was incredibly close to my grandmother. She played a huge part in shaping the person I am today.
I miss her terribly.
I wish I could have seen her before she went.
To tell her one more time that I loved her.
To have her embrace my children, to stroke my hair and tell me if she liked my current hairdo or not.
Saldu Dusu Ma.