Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jessie Myers: my Nanna

In today’s post I’m winging it. I’ve no option. For, I’m ashamed to say, I know little of my subject. Much too little. Today I write of my maternal grandmother Jessie Myers (pictured) who was born Jessie Woolf on 19 April 1892, i.e. 118 years ago yesterday. I don’t know exactly where she was born, but it was in Victoria and probably Melbourne. I don’t know her parents’ names. She lived in Melbourne all her life. Her siblings were Connie, Jack and Bernie. I don’t know what year she married Samuel Joseph Myers (1888-1960). They had two daughters: my godmother Sadie Leah Myers (1918-99) and my mother Josie Patricia Myers (1922-95). My mother, and my father after they married in 1943, lived at 255 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park with my grandfather (Bampy) and my grandmother (Nanna) for many years. My darling sister Sue and I were born into, and grew up in, that extended household. Nanna was a large woman. But my main memory of her’s of illness. She’d had left breast cancer, and the resultant surgery and radiation produced left arm lymphedema (‘My big arm’, she called it.) She also had very unstable Type 1 diabetes, which despite insulin injections, seemed to me out of control most of the time. So she was frequently bedridden. I sat by her bedside a lot. After Bampy died, or maybe just before, Nanna began to have diabetic vascular complications. She was transferred to a nursing home in Brighton where she lived out her years. (After she left, my parents sold 255 and with Sue and me we moved to a Toorak apartment where we lived as a nuclear family.) I was in my early teens, so I had little medical knowledge then. But I think infections in Nanna’s foot developed into gangrene, and she underwent progressive amputations of toes, then foot, then leg. She also had had a stroke along the way, paralysing her (big) left arm and her left leg. I don’t know her year of death. It was in the mid 1960s – definitely after I’d begun to study Medicine in 1964, and before 1969 when my Dad died. Also I don’t know her cause of death. I reiterate I feel ashamed I know so little of an ancestor only two generations ahead of me. I hope to find out more over the next few years. Why am I ashamed? Because if it wasn’t for my Nanna, I wouldn’t be writing these words today. I owe you everything, Nan.


Anonymous said...

Nanna sounds like a mighty tough character, sometimes I think about all the ancestors that survived long enough in a chain reaction to me. It is awesome to think of the history they lived thru and the struggles they overcame, we are all descendants of survivors.
I have to get back to the East End saga soon, but it is glorious outside and the earth calls me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous my foot, it was Chrows 25!I am not signed in so it is being difficult...

farmdoc said...

Over the two years plus I've been writing Farmdoc's Blog, I've had a few anonymous comments. And almost all of them have been either banal or advertisements. As this one's first two sentences were neither, I had a sneaking suspicion it wasn't from an anonymous commenter. Your third sentence gave your identity away.
I hope you had a productive time in your garden, Chrows25. As our weather heads inexorably to winter, you deserve some 'glorious' weather after yours.

eleanor moses said...

Hi cousin
Jessie Woolf was born in Collingwood, married Samuel Joseph Myers in 1916 in Melbourne. Her parents were Philip Woolf & Dinah Opas both born in London. I can go back further on this. Samuel's parents were Catherine Moses and Joseph Myers. Catherine Moses was my grandfather's sister.
So that makes you my second cousin once removed.

I've got heaps of family history if you're interested.
My email is eleanorm@optusnet.com.au