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Today’s post is brought to you by the Letter “F” and today you’re going to meet my Mother-in-law (the Matriarch) Fran Hine.
Frances Rosslyn Currow was born in Altona Victoria on 13th November 1927, the younger of the twins.
Fran, as most know her, or those in the family, we call her “Tanny” because when her twin sister Val, was growing up she was trying to call her “Franny” and couldn’t pronounce the “F” so she became “Tanny” and it stuck.
Fran met her husband to be- Jock while they were ice skating and she loves to tell us about how he ran into her and cut her ankle open and then helped her home and that was the start of the great love affair.
Jock and Tanny got married on October 15 1949. And went on to have three children, Mark was the eldest followed by the love of MY life Rob and then sister Leigh. There’s so many stories that the children could tell and I could waffle on all night just on Rob’s memories but we have to fast forward to “How I met my Mother-in-law“
Let’s back track a little, Tanny is actually my second Mother-in-law, the first one I met when I was 17 years old and I asked my then “boyfriend” what shall I call her? he replied “just call her Mum everyone does!” Mrs Hamilton sounded way too formal and I was taught to respect your elders so I wasn’t going to call her “June” so she became Mum. I have been calling her Mum ever since. Sadly Mum Hamilton passed away a few years ago, and even though I divorced her much-loved only son, I was able to keep on good terms with my “In-laws” we had a brief falling out when Tony and I separated and some heated words got spoken, but in the end we all agreed that for the children’s sake we needed to be at least “civil” to each other so that the children could still spend time with their Grandparents. Over time we got back onto our usual good footing and when they met Rob they just accepted him into the “family” and also treated my “Star Son” as their own grandson, no different from my “first three children”. At the time when we had harsh words spoken, I was heart-broken because I’d been calling her “Mum” for so many years I felt as though I had actually lost my Mum, but I understood that her son must come first to her, and it was then I declared I would NEVER let another “mother figure” come into my life.
By the time I got to meet this Mother-in-law I was pregnant, unmarried and had three children, in her eyes I’m sure I looked like a “Gold Digger” I’m sure if I were in her place I would have questions, but she never asked any of me. Maybe she did to Rob and if so he’s never told me so, I’m sure she voiced her disappointment, and I felt very chilly waves coming from her the first time we met. Rob’s Dad on the other hand was very welcoming and made an effort to chat happily. Then I moved into his House in Sunbury before the baby was born, we had his parents over many times and she was always polite to me, but I didn’t feel like we were friends, and I was totally OK with that because I had said “no more Mother figures“
Our wedding was a Medieval wedding, and as such everyone had a part to play and Fran, had to make some sweet cakes which we had to take a bite of at our vows and a sip of wine, the symbolism was that she was bringing some “sweetness” to our union… I don’t think she liked the whole idea but she went along with it.
Through the years Tanny has always let me know that she is number one in my the Bloke’s life, she always says things like “HE’s MINE but I’ll share him with you” and at first I took offence and shut my mouth and then I realized that it was her coping mechanism, because before me it was Her and Rob and his son Kit and then I came along and took some of that away. I didn’t mean to and I didn’t want to it just happened.
When Jock was very sick and in hospital we went to visit and I was asked to wait outside because it was just “family” so I took my children down to the little cafe area and Rob and Kit went into see Jock, that hurt a lot because we’d been married a few years, but I’m sure that she didn’t even mean it really, or maybe she did who knows, but I went in later and saw Jock.
Jock was in the hospital over the Christmas period so one day we went into visit and Tanny had been spending all her time there, so we decided to break her out for the day, and my middle son and the youngest son, Rob, Tanny and I went to the Zoo. She was able to relax a little and focus on something else other than how sick Jock was.
After Jock died, we would go and visit Tanny more often and we started including her in our “Date Days” we took Star Son and Tanny and we “double dated” Tanny slowly grew to like me a bit more and would tell me stories of when she was younger, and her golfing stories and some Sunday mornings she would come and stand in the cold with me and watch Star Son play football. One particular “Date Day” we decided to go into Melbourne to the “Ice house” and go Ice-skating. The Bloke thought it was a good idea but he made me stick by her side like glue envisioning his Mother with a broken hip after she fell.. Star son went off slipping and sliding and I was not much better, we nick named Star Son “Happy Feet” that day, as Happy Feet wandered further away, The Bloke had to let go of Tanny to go fetch our son, I was holding onto the rail for my dear life, no sooner had the Bloke left Tanny and she whizzed around backwards and said “look Kim, I can still go backwards” she ended up on the big screen in the ice skating rink and the Bloke came back and almost had a fit!!
Tanny now has dementia and in October 2014 we moved her into a “retirement village” she refused blankly to go to an aged care facility or nursing home! That was a very hard decision for the family to make and it was up to the Bloke and I go get her there on the day, the Sunday before we’d been to her house and packed up most of her goodies, then on the Wednesday we had to get a final suitcase and her into the car, well, she had unpacked the suitcase and put it all away unsure as to why it had been packed at all..So I quickly had to repack her case and somehow convince her it was a good idea. The ironic thing about dementia is that she can’t tell you what she ate for lunch 20 minutes ago, but she’ll tell you word for word how she ice skated backwards in her 80’s.. saying to anyone who listens “I’ve still got it!”
Our most recent “Date day”, this time it was “The Bloke, my Grandson Squishy and Tanny” and it was a trip to Ballarat to drive past her old home, and again we hear the stories of when she worked for that time to raise money to buy a caravan to go travelling around Australia. We had a lovely fish ‘n; chip picnic in the park and took her home again.
I think it’s fair to say that I am her friend now.. she hugs me hello and kisses me goodbye each time we visit, we laugh and chat together happily and she poses for all sorts of photos whenever we ask… she loves to sing and dance and will demonstrate that whenever we go to visit, she takes us around to her friends and proudly says “look! This is MY family” So what if she mixes us up.. one day I was her sister, and then her Mother and finally her daughter-in-law, who cares at least she likes me now!!