I’m writing to you from Sydney Airport after having spent two magical days with my Aunty Glad (Gladys), an amazingly serene woman who will enter the ranks of the Centenarian’s on April 1st next year.
Although we only see each other every few years, whenever we are together if feels like it was only a week or so since our previous meeting. She is a woman who exudes calming energy and is always smiling and can see the fun in everyday life. Often she adds a giggle to her words.
A couple of years ago Aunty Glad moved from Sydney where she had lived all of her life to a small rural town three and a half hours south. Her new home is a cosy Granny Flat on a majestic property which she shares with her married daughter and son-in-law.
Their three and a half acres is in dairy farming country and from the top of the hill where the house sits there is a grand vista of green rolling hills and tall trees. There are also lots of dairy cows happily grazing.
It has been a wet winter and the country side is lush and the hay has been cut over the last week and hay bales are scattered everywhere. This area right now is a landscape artists’ dream.
A 15 minute drive by car is the tiny coastal hamlet where I spent 4 weeks holiday in December/January for a number of years with this aunt, my uncle and three cousins.
We stayed each year in an old, very basic cabin that was built on stumps about three feet off the ground. It had fibro walls, was not lined and it had a corrugated tin roof that gave a fantastic drumming in heavy rain. There was a back door, but no front door. It had two rooms and a big covered front veranda where we all slept. This had a wall half way up at the front. Where ever windows or glass would be in a house, here were open spaces. One of the two inside rooms was for storing suitcases and for dressing and the other room was the kitchen and eating area.
Aunty Glad cooked on a wood stove, or camp kerosene stove. We had an ice chest, a sink, a couple of cupboards and a big kitchen table where we all ate and had loads of fun telling stories, teasing one another, and laughing.
After breakfast today Aunty Glad and I drove to Lake Conjola (now a National Park) for a trip down ‘memory lane’. I realised it was 55 years since my last visit there as a child.
We had loads of laughs about the outside ‘long drop’ toilet that was really a corrugated iron hot box when the sun was shining, and about eating fresh oysters from the shell. We roared laughing about being bailed up often by a flock of geese – once for hours, about being chased by a large black snake, about the visiting hypnotist who amazed we small ones, about the crazy and dangerous things we all got up to as we ran free, and so much more.
As we sat chatting this morning I asked my sprightly aunt what worked for her to keep her serene, about her tips for living a stress-less life. Her answers were…
- Having a loving, caring and supportive family. Acceptance of everyone as they are.
- Having a month’s holiday every Christmas/New Year. Lying in bed at night and thinking ‘I have not a worry in the world as we holiday in this little piece of paradise’.
- Everyone in the family is so good at having lots of laughs. She then added….”Your mum, Johnny, certainly could laugh”.
- Always eating good healthy fresh food, not food out of a can or a packet.
- Not being a ‘what if’ person. Being an optimist, not a pessimist in other words. I took after my father in this way, definitely not my mother, Aunty Glad said.
- Having gratitude for everything I have ever had in my life. Being grateful for every meal, favourite or not.
- I have always enjoyed helping others.
Aunty Glad is a person who has always walked her talk. She is fit and healthy, mainly looks after herself and loves life, people, animals and nature.
Her serenity, her essence of quiet calmness, her acceptance of, and gratitude for, her lot in life make her a powerful and precious role model for our family.
Thank you, Aunty Glad. Thanks for everything.