My Great- Grandmother travelled alone with her children to New Zealand in 1907, the attraction that here she could vote, own property independently in a way impossible to be in the UK.
She raised her four daughters, my Grandmother included, to be independent women, yes they learned deportment and Papers Past tells me a lot about the parties they attended and the outfits they wore, but is silent on the practical skills my Great-Grandmother insisted they also learn. My grandmother trained as a secretary at technical college.
My Great-Grandmother was gone before I was born. My father remembers her as a stern woman who he called her ” bloody bloody” when she told him off for summarily beheading her roses (the story is silent on how he came to be dead heading her roses).
My Great Grandmother was inspired by Queen Elizabeth II’s first Christmas Broadcast in 1952 , which resonated so strongly she embroidered it and framed it five times so each of her children could have it on their wall.
“Above all, we must keep alive that courageous spirit of adventure that is the finest quality of youth; and by youth I do not just mean those who are young in years; I mean too all those who are young in heart, no matter how old they may be.”
That was my Great Grandmother’s take away from the Queen’s message, which today hangs on my wall. It’s also a message that foreshadows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, who after 70 years on the throne, is today being remembered as a woman who did her duty while retaining a youthful heart throughout.
Keeping it just as faithfully as her earlier 1947 pledge to serve her whole life, whether it be long or short, in the service of us all.
Not so surprising, perhaps, if my coauthor Les Hailes were here, he would call it another example of Just Cause and Effect.
Amanda Nally, 26 September 2022