Pinky's Book Link

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pinky calls to bring back the extended family!

We were drawing up family trees at school today and I was astounded that most of my nine year old students didn’t know their aunts and uncles names. Nor did they know if their parents had siblings at all. A lot of the kids didn’t know much about their grandparents either and I must admit it made me feel a bit sad at the seeming loss of extended families in today’s society. 

Loving as they are, my parents live in another town and really don’t have much contact with the kids. I practically lived at my Grandma’s house on weekends and so did my numerous cousins.

Grandad descended from the Tafe family who were famous on the Show Circuit for their show bags containing homemade sweets. In his retirement years, he regularly made and sold these wares to local shops. 

Jar after jar of Honeycomb, Chocolate Fudge, Coconut Ice, Toffees, Toasted Marshmallows, Peanut Brittle and a myriad of other delights adorned the kitchen shelves. 

It was pretty much open slather for the grandkids. 
Lenient, generous Grandma would agree to us doing whatever we wanted and one day my cousin and I requested that we be allowed to boil up a can of condensed milk on the stove. I had heard in an urban legend at school that if you boiled the can for an hour you could create CARAMEL!

“I suppose so,” said Grandma gingerly, “but don’t make any mess please; I just cleaned the house this morning.”

We plonked the can in the saucepan of water, turned on the gas stove and watched it boil for about ten minutes before getting bored and going off to play in the mango tree. Mum arrived half an hour later to take us home.

Apparently the saucepan boiled dry, the can exploded magnificently and Grandma spent a challenging couple of days attempting to clean the caramel from the walls, shelves, floor and ceiling. Nothing was said directly to us mind you. She was a very understanding Nana.

One Father’s Day, when I was about nine years old, my mother presented my Granddad with a gift of socks, shirts and a box of chocolates. He opened the chockies and generously offered them around carefully placing them in the fridge for another day. 

My sister, brother and I were sleeping over at Grandma’s that night and I became fanatically fixated on that box of chocolates. The thought of gobbling all those delicious hard and soft centres consumed me and when the other two were in bed and the grandparents were busy watching ‘Cop Shop’ on the Telly, I pretended to read in the kitchen.

Every now and then I would sneak into the fridge and nick a chocolate, all the while remaining vigilant about not rustling the wrappings. 

He won’t notice, I thought, I’ll only pinch a couple. My gluttony slowly but exponentially spiralled out of control and before I knew it all the tempting bonbons had disappeared leaving a conspicuously empty box. What could I do now? There was only one thing for it; I had to hide the box and deny any knowledge of what may have occurred.

“Do any of you kids know what happened to Granddad’s chocolates?” asked Grandma the next morning, whilst bewildered Granddad muttered in the background as he searched through the rubbish bin.

We all shook our heads. One of us wasn't quite as convincing as the other two in our renunciations though. 

When my Mum came to pick us up later in the day I heard Grandma telling her about the missing chocolates. 

“I’m pretty sure it was little Sam that stole them,” she whispered, “She was complaining about feeling bilious during the night.” 
I never confessed to the crime.

Deceitful, gluttonous child that I was I did regret my impulsive actions that night. Many years later, when I was sixteen and seventeen years of age, after our Grandma suffered a stroke, my sister and I would take turns to look after her. We would stay with her for five hours on a Saturday afternoon while Granddad had a break away from the house. 

This went on for two years before she was eventually placed into professional care. 

There were no mobile phones back then, or IPod s or laptops and no entertainment for those five hours while Grandma slept. 
I sometimes wonder if my teenagers would sacrifice their free Saturdays to look after their Grandma with the same commitment.