Monday, July 19, 2010

Our beautiful matriarch

The word matriarch is such a fitting misnomer for me when talking about my family. The Greek word speaks of a fiery, silver-haired maven who commands all those before her into quivering servitude. It suggests a matron used to getting her own way and making that fact known to all around.

For the Surridge family, our matriarch was the polar opposite of the poetic imagery, but her impact was just as forceful. Audrey (aka Mum, Grandma and Great-Grandma), while silver-haired and occasionally imposing with her unshakable simple, homely faith and open-hearted kindness, was a beacon of gentle calm. In the face of some very considerable adversity, Mum (as I confusingly came to call her early in life) fought hard to maintain a stable shelter. For most in my family who didn’t venture far from the nest, this may have been overlooked and possibly taken for granted, but for those of us who’ve been imbued with the perpetual itchy-feet, the vision of that modest, gorgeous home on the main highway in Albury was a beautiful touch-stone and battery recharger.

Matriarch the word, however, does fit when considering what it was that Audrey was able to achieve in her life. A simple farm girl, she nabbed the handsomely chiseled town-boy and set about making a family and a home. Through some of the world’s greatest societal upheavals, Audrey and Roy brought five head-strong, very determined children into the world. With fierce determination, they fought through the catastrophic murder-suicide of my Uncle and picked up the pieces of their family left behind to provide a temporary home for their three boys. She sailed through the continual upsets and disappointments from challenging family members and continued to welcome all with open arms. And with steely determination, she fought through the loss of her life partner and maintained a proud home through thick and thin.

Our matriarch passed away tonight and it’s left quite a hole. As far as I know, it’s last of the grandparent generation for my family and it’s shifted everyone up a notch in the family tree. For me, Mum’s passing has brought back how important the family unit can be, regardless of its foibles. And it’s given me a great appreciation for what Audrey was able to provide - it sounds simple, but it’s infinitely far from it.


Dina said...

Beautiful tribute to your family matriarch!

I'm very sorry for your family's loss.

Jules said...

Nice one Benny. My Oma died in '98 and I still miss her ways.

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