I received an overwhelming round of applause after reading my eulogy – a great moment. So many people thanked and praised me for my words after the service. I’d like to share it with you all now – It was an honour and a privilege to do it. I loved her so much.
Before I started writing my eulogy for Nanna I sat down and thought about how I was going to translate so many moments from Nanna’s life and put it into words on paper. Two words continuously came up, ‘Love’ and ‘Acceptance’. Nanna loved and accepted all of us into her life; she shared her journey with us. What an honour and privilege it is to have travelled with her, all of our paths crossing, those in this room and those who are no longer with us. Let us remember them. Let us remember Nanna. That was enough for me to start writing today’s eulogy; to pay homage and dedicate this last tribute to a much loved and adored woman.
85 years of memories, Giuseppina, Giuseppa, Guza, Josephine, Peppa, Nanna. Born on June 6th 1927 to parents Emmanuel and Nazja Defelice in Zabbar, Malta. Nanna’s journey through life has been quite an extraordinary one. She married in April 1950 to Nannu Eusebio Darmanin, immigrated to Australia in 1954 with two daughters Grace and Evelyn, settled in Carlton, then giving birth to her first son Tony. She was over the moon.
Nannu Eusebio built the family home in Oberon Avenue St.Albans, where she had three other children Maryanne, Johnny and Raymond. It was Nannu’s passion to provide for his family and his children, always putting them first. His hard work and his dedication was what made him an extremely fine gentleman. He was a very proud man who just adored his family. While Nanna looked after her family, Nannu worked hard on building the family home. Their hospitality was a defined specialty; they welcomed friends and relatives from overseas, accommodating them in part of the family home.
When all of their children married, Nanna moved to Fox Street for a short time before moving on to Conrad Street, which would end up being her home for many more years. Nannu fell ill and it was the family who came together to help care for him right up till his passing. Sunday visits to Nanna’s place in Fox Street were special. We would have the whole family together, a memorable childhood memory. My sister Danielle was the first-born grandchild. Nanna and Nannu loved to fuss over her; she was their pride and joy. Many other grandchildren followed then came the great-grand children. Nanna loved all of us equally. She just adored having all of us around her, joking with her and talking with her. She showered us in love.
Thank you all for being here today, all you need to do is take a good look around this church to see how many people have been part of Nanna’s journey through life. I know we could all say that she was one special woman. Nanna would be so happy to see you all here for her. I’m sure she would’ve taken a moment to come sit with you all and have a good chat about life or share with you whatever news she had to tell. Nanna was a good talker and a good listener, she brought people together. Nanna welcomed people into her home; she made time for everyone – all those endless cups of tea; the lengthy phone calls. She thrived on companionship, friendship and having her family and friends around her.
The Maltese pension club was one of Nanna’s favourite pastimes; she loved being with her Maltese friends down at the local hall in St.Albans or enjoying regular dinner dances with her family and friends, particularly her favourite; ‘Our Lady of Grace’. Nanna loved attending the bingo down at Green Gully Soccer Club, she was in her element. Nanna would let others play her bingo tickets for her while she sat back, drank tea and watched others; she enjoyed the company of the people around her. Nanna made so many friends over the years, many loved her like a mother and like a sister.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all who played such an important part in Nanna’s care; particularly my colleagues at Sunshine Hospital, and all the friends who visited Nanna regularly as we all know how much she enjoyed their company. My personal thanks to mum Grace who did such an amazing job taking care of her right till the end. The love we had for Nanna was mutual. We loved her and she loved us. It was unconditional.
I took the time to sit with Nanna and discuss her time in Malta for a school project many years ago; I’d like to share a few of these memories with you today.
When I asked her what two words she’d use to describe her 70 years of life, she said ‘Happiness and Hardship’. From the dusty streets of the Mediterranean Island of Malta, to the rough seas of the Indian Ocean and to the current place she called home Australia, Nanna Peppa had a story to tell. A story that every person loved to hear because living in the 1900’s was a fascination to every storytellers dream.
Nanna talked about life, being the second eldest of seven children, she recalled many events that shaped her life. The horse and cart was her most memorable childhood memory. The sound of hoofs clattering on the ancient Maltese rubble stone. She remembers buying fresh fish, bread and Kerosene. Food wasn’t scarce however they did have to look after what they had. Water was collected from a well situated on the outskirts of her village. Nanna recalls people young and old venturing across the rocks of Malta towards the relief of fresh water to drink and bath.
Nanna spoke to me about the times her mother would prepare a dish of food and send her down to the local bakery where she would get the dish baked and heated, there were no cookers back then. There were no refrigerators either. Men on carts would travel through the streets and sell ice, which helped keep produce cool.
Life in war-torn Malta had its ups and downs. When I asked Nanna what it was like living in a country outraged with war, she said her time was spent washing clothes for a small amount of money. She became a daily housemaid for different families; she would do their laundry in return for money or even in some cases a meal. Her best friend Theresa and she would walk to work and begin and end their day scrubbing clothes. She recalls the day her hand was struck while scrubbing clothes in a basin by a piece of metal from a bomber aircraft that flew over Malta. ‘Times were tough’ she said, ‘but the love of my family was strong enough to not let war tear them apart’.
There were very small amusements in Malta during this time, but the happiest of times she remembers was that at ‘The Royale’, a small picture theatre where she and her friends would go to amuse themselves by meeting others and enjoying their company. They would play a game with small beans bouncing them between their hands, or skipping rope with friends, but the most important of events was church on a Sunday with family – a traditional she continued in Australia right here at Sacred Heart with her own family.
Christmas was a special time for her family. Her father Emmanuel would return home from the Merchant Marine Navy to celebrate with them, her mother Nazja would catch a rooster that morning and prepare their dish and Nanna’s favourite – soup. Two weeks before Christmas Nanna would join her three sisters in washing and scrubbing floors, decorating the house and dressing up the curtains with Christmas cheer. Their local priest would come by and conclude celebrations by blessing their home. “There was never any jealousy’ she said, ‘You had what you had and that was that’. ‘Never in my life did we ever go without’ Nanna said. She was ‘content’ with the way her life had turned out and the advice left for the next generation of her family was ‘to just be happy with what you have’. Nanna fought and battled hard to earn what she had but she says ‘we should be grateful for what we have and what we are given’.
Nanna got a little emotional when I asked her ‘If she had one dream, what would it be?’ She paused for a moment then turned to me and said ‘I wish my husband was still with me, my children were babies and we all lived together in our first home in St.Albans’.
Nanna, all of your beautiful attributes will continue to live on forever and will be with us always as we continue on through this journey. We will eternally keep your loving memory in our hearts and in our prayers.
We will miss your smile and we will miss your love.
Nanna, may you rest peacefully, together again with Nannu Eusebio, my Dad Joe and all the beautiful souls who have left before us. Shining ever so brightly like a diamond in the night sky.
I’ll leave you with a verse from Nanna’s favourite song.
XEMX WISQ SABIHA LILLEK IRRID – (Sun you’re so beautiful its you I desire)
GAWHRA TA QALBI LILLEK INHOBB – (Jewel of my heart you are the one I love)