Sadie’s Strength

As you may have read, I have had to give up gluten as it aggravates my autoimmune thyroid condition. And the adjustment has been hard. But I’m getting to grips with it and I’m finding alternative things to eat. I do miss those warm chocolate croissants that no gluten-free flour could create successfully. If I’m wrong, please help me to find them.

I keep thinking about my late grandmother, Sadie. She was an alcoholic and through a family intervention, she went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). From the moment she became sober, she didn’t touch another drop of alcohol. And I marveled at her resolve in keeping beers in her fridge for my father and uncle. I marveled at her ability to bake tipsy tart and not even have a slice, even though the alcohol was certainly cooked off. Once she made up her mind, she stuck to it. And it can’t have been easy – they say the cravings never stop.


So I think of her when I’m preparing toast for my children or buying them chocolate muffins that I can’t eat. And that keeps me strong, knowing there was another woman in my family who battled this kind of craving. I know that I could eat gluten and I wouldn’t die but it stimulates the autoimmune response and it’s just not good for me. Much like Sadie: she could have had a drink but it would send her back down that path that was just not good for her, or the family.

I do remember her being a bit drunk when baking and giggling that she must have dropped the lid of the vanilla essence into the cake. “Oh well” she shrugged and put the cake in the oven. It was my aunt, her daughter, who told her she was not welcome at her grandson’s 21st birthday celebration if she was not sober. This was the catalyst to getting her act together. Family mattered to her, more than anything.

She was a real character and had a really naughty sense of humour. We used to laugh a lot and she used to bring us licorice in a brown paper bag. She used to let us smoosh her hair the day before she went to the salon. And she let us sit on her lap in her then fashionable Volkswagen beetle and ‘drive’ with that huge thin steering wheel and pretend to change gears with the long gear lever.


She was a remarkable person and had the strength of character to expose her own son’s infidelity. It was Sadie who told us about my father’s affair and his other family. When I think about how hard that must have been and what strength and integrity was required, I’m even more in awe of her. I know the emotional tsunami that followed must have been tough for her to bear and she did say that she regretted telling us. She was not a religious person but she did the right thing when faced with a difficult decision.

I’m sorry she’s gone and I wish I could spend even one afternoon with her, talking about her life and showing her my crochet projects that I’m sure she’d be proud of. Even though she’s gone, she inspires me to be a strong person, someone with integrity that won’t look away from wrong. She keeps me focused on looking after myself so that I can care for my family and I’m hoping she’s with me in some ways to boost my resilience when I want to falter.

Isn’t it interesting how she was really flawed and she messed up a lot but was still a valuable person and a source of inspiration to me? Best we remember that when we fail and make mistakes. We can still be someone’s role model, even with our flaws.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your Gran. It has brought up memories of my late Father in law who believed that you did things because it was the right thing to do, no matter how difficult or how others would react. Facing her own fears and demons because it was the right thing to do, is something to respect and aspire to. I hope that your memories of her, fill your face with love and smiles. Keep on with your journey….it is inspiring!

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