“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
~ Roald Dahl
My maternal Grandfather, Cedric Beresford Nurcombe, better known as Ceddie to those he loved, died two days before Christmas in 2005. He was a wonderful man; hard working, honest, with a great sense of humour and true old-fashioned values.
His marriage to my grandmother, Margaret ( we all called her Marga) remains one of the defining love stories of my life. They met when they were both so young, and were devoted to each other their entire lives.
Recently my mum shared with me something very dear that she’d found when getting the old family home ready for sale after my grandmother’s death – Ceddie’s old, worn leather wallet, with his initials embossed on a gold button on the front.
I held that soft leather in my hands and remembered all the times Ceddie had brought that wallet out to buy us kids an ice-cream, or to put petrol in the car, or diesel in the boat. It was as much a part of him as my grandmother’s beaded coin purse was of her.
What was still inside that wallet after his death is what I find most moving, and most revealing about my grandfather.
Ceddie was born in Longreach, the son of a drover, and his early life (which he rarely talked about) was hard. He qualified to become a wool classer, and eventually moved to to the city, marrying my grandmother and setting up the Apex Wool Scour in Brisbane. Still, my grandfather was a country boy who never lost his love for the land, or the memory of where he’d come from.
Here in his wallet was evidence of that. A tiny clipping from a 1950s newspaper with prices for wool sales. Saved as a precious relic for all that time.
Another newspaper clipping from the 1960s – the funeral notice for his sister, Florence.
There are two faded tickets for a Jazz Recital at the Concert Hall in Brisbane back in 1988. My grandparents loved their music. It must have been a memorable occasion for him to have kept those stubs.
But the most touching thing of all is a much-folded and worn piece of paper, on which is written a recipe for Baked Custard. The recipe is painstakingly numbered into steps by a man who was more used to welding, building, power tools and outdoors work than being helpful in the kitchen.
The kitchen was always my grandmother’s realm. Marga was Queen of the Kitchen and we all acknowledged her skill. She was the one whose love of cooking sparked my own. Marga reigned supreme in the house, and in her garden. My grandfather took care of driving, business and everything else.
But as she aged, my grandmother suffered from poor health. She was diabetic, her eyesight began to fail, and she was hospitalised for a series of infections which had started in her jaw and then nearly killed her.
Marga couldn’t eat the hospital food. She was losing weight, losing strength and losing hope. So my grandfather took careful notes, and made her a baked custard which he brought up to her – good nourishing food to her own recipe. He kept making the baked custard for her until she came home, and even after that he continued to bake it for the rest of his life, taking great pride in his ability to make the ‘perfect’ custard dish. For months it was all his beloved wife could eat. Marga used to credit my grandfather’s cooking with saving her life. In fact, I’m sure it did.
I treasure the secrets in my grandfather’s wallet. They’re a window into what was most precious in his life. They reveal a man with the tenderest of hearts.
That little scrap of paper with the custard recipe shows me that true love exists and endures, and that love, home and family remain the most important things in the world.
My wish for you today is that your own heart be filled with what matters most to you. All my love, ♥ Nicole xx