My grandmothers Ethne Tapp and May Mawson couldn't have been more different. But they both loved me. And I loved them.
Nanna was a man magnet. It would be exaggerating to say Ethne was a man-eater but there was the hearing aid incident when she was living in a rest home. I can't remember who mistook whose hearing aid for a boiled sweet but it was a costly mistake.
When Nanna would visit us on the farm, Dad would have to ask Mum the name of her latest beau before they arrived. I haven't inherited one scrap of Nanna's way with men but, like me, she adored cats. The one I remember the most was Ruby Tuesday who ate fresh meat off proper china plates.
Nanna was a prolific writer, usually with an eye on winning some cash, and her pars and letters were mainly published in the NZ Woman's Weekly and Sunday News. She used various noms de plume, including Tina, ET and Dumb Dora.
She had a terrific sense of humour and I would delight in her stories about the family who lived next door when Nanna was raising her four children at Whakahoro, where the Whanganui River meets the Retaruke.
This family was poor, even by the standards of the 1940s, and needed to cross a swing bridge over the river to get to the road. One day the wife stood on a loose plank, which no doubt was frightening. Her husband, following behind, apparently called out "save the plank, save the plank".
One day she made my father, her son, laugh so much he started choking on his lunch and his face turned a dangerous colour, best described as beetroot on steroids. We thought he was going to die.
Gran was a great cook, sewer and knitter. May could crotchet like there was no tomorrow and I have two knee rugs she made. She spent countless hours making clothes for my doll.
Helen had everything from summer and winter nightgowns to a winter coat, raincoat, bikini and pearl necklace. She decorated my dolls house and make the tiniest cushions imaginable for the lounge furniture.
Gran was a great support to her husband and they loved their routines. Each night for supper, Gran would peel and quarter an apple for Pop, passing him his pieces skewered on the end of a knife.
On Mondays Pop would go to Rotary and Gran and I to town. We would get the Woman's Weekly from Poynters' Bookshop in Whanganui and sit in the car waiting for Pop to return.
Gran would read the magazine and I'd be in the back seat trying to read over her shoulder.
Gran had the envious task of assessing me for my Brownies housekeeping badge. I had to demonstrate I could mop a floor. I had no idea what I was doing, lifting the mop out the bucket and splashing water around her kitchen floor like I was at a swimming pool. What a mess.
While I'm a dreadful sewer, I loved going with Gran to haberdashery stores as we matched thread, chose buttons and studied the pattern books. In her later years, she took up wood carving and her 'The Oaks' sign hung on the front porch of her house many years after she sold it.
Gran was born in England and would always talk about it as home, despite coming to Wellington as a young girl. Her mother died when she was a teen and when she gave birth to her first daughter towards the end of World War II, Pop had returned to the Pacific where he was stationed.
Gran had wonderful plump skin and beautifully shaped fingernails. Her TV tray was a cornucopia of beauty products. She taught me many things but the most important was the need to - at times - just be.
Having two generous, talented and loving grandmothers is one of the biggest blessings of my life.