matthew murray

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Personal Memories of Ma

Published on April 4th, 2012 | by Matthew Murray


Is that you Matthew? Memories of my grandmother

One year ago today my grandmother, Ma as we called her, passed away.

Here is the speech I attempted to read out at her funeral. I say attempted because I broke down in tears 3 times and my sister had to continue reading for me.

Is that you Matthew?

These were the first words I always heard Ma say when I rang her from 10,000 miles away in England. Although we spoke often when I lived overseas, the most vivid memories I have of Ma are firmly planted in the 1980s.

As young children, my sister Catherine and I spent a lot of time at her house during school holidays and at weekends. Ma’s house was full of mysterious objects waiting to be discovered.

In the lounge there was her record collection – Johnny O’Keefe’s greatest hits, Rolf Harris’s Jake the Peg, Hot Butter’s Popcorn and in later years, a record that really tickled her fancy, the Proclaimers “I would walk 500 miles”.

There were photo albums and as I flipped through them I would ask her who all the people were. Photos of my mother Shirley, Uncle Trevor and Aunty Adele growing up. Mysterious black and white photos of her nephews going to a fancy dress ball. Photos that although they were only about 30 years old at the time, looked as if they were from a different age altogether.

In her bedroom there was a Chinese looking jewellery box full of beads and old newspaper clippings.

In the bathroom cupboard there was a box full of old lego.

In the sewing room there were dress patterns and jars full of buttons.

In the laundry there was an old yellow, orange and brown flowery trolley she took on shopping trips.

In the shed there were souvenirs of her painting days – tubes of oil paints, an easel. Back in the house were her still life paintings – fruit, bottles and Catherine when she was a baby.

In the kitchen, there was always a freshly baked meat pie, pikelets or a tin full of patty cakes waiting to be savoured.

In the dining room there was a cabinet full of treasures where Ma kept her board games. At night times we would play Monopoly, though she would never let me be the banker as somehow, wrongly, I had a reputation for cheating.

Catherine, Matthew & Ma, 1978

Catherine, Matthew & Ma, 1978. I worked out the year from the calendar in the background of this photo.

Ma also loved playing cards, she taught us Rummy and we would play for hours. When arriving at her house, there was often a game of patience being played at the kitchen table – the cards dealt out in the shape of a clock.

As the hands of time moved forward around that clock and I got older, I realised that Ma had experienced personal tragedies and heartache in life, yet somehow she always managed to retain a positive, happy outlook. In life, as in a game of cards, she always made the best of the hand she was dealt.

She took us to Sydney twice. The first time I got locked in the toilet on the train trip down there and the guard had to free me. She told everyone that story for the next 20 years.

Back in Brisbane, she often took us into town and we would lunch upstairs at the old Coles cafeteria in Queen Street. And Catherine and I were very well known at the Grange Thistle Soccer Club where we regularly went with her to play Bingo.

Most of all, I will remember her infectious laugh. You couldn’t help but smile upon hearing it.

Ma, I can’t imagine my childhood without you. I only wish you could’ve spent more time with my children when you were in good health.

Is that you Matthew? Yes Ma, it’s me, your loving grandson.



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4 Responses to Is that you Matthew? Memories of my grandmother

  1. Alison says:

    What beautiful memories you have….and so beautifully articulated. Thank you for sharing. Your ‘Ma’ sounds like a wonderful soul………and thank you for referencing the Coles cafeteria….I used to LOVE that place when I was a kid (and a student).

    • Matthew Murray says:

      Thanks Alison, much appreciated 🙂

      Yes the Coles cafeteria was a favourite, it’s a shame that it and all the places I once visited (Regent Cinema, the original Shingle Inn) have all gone now…

  2. Pingback: Is that you Matthew? Memories of my grandmother | weeklyblogclub

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