Over the Rainbow

I’m sad; plain and simple. Today was the first time I’ve ever been to Rainbow and not gone to Grans house. It was surreal, not having her there in real life, supporting us like she has always done. It was strange not seeing ‘dog turds’ and her biscuits on the Church Hall tables after the committal.

I’m also grateful, for so many things. She knew I loved her. I had 42 years with her, that’s longer than I had with mum. My boys knew her well and loved her dearly, their little Granny Mart. My love of cooking is because of her. Christmas Day will always have the “men do the dishes” rule, because Granny Mart said. So many things I love about her.

Driving into Rainbow today, the clear sky was the color of the G Marts eyes and a random hawk, slowly glided across the road in front of us, as we came into town.

As we drove back into Melbourne, dark clouds billowed as three rainbows ribboned the sky. Coincidence? Perhaps. I like to think not.

Her final breath was on my birthday and I was annoyed at first. But not now.

We buried the G Mart today.

Her Eulogy was one of the toughest things I’ve ever written, and then spoken. I cried through the entire thing, and missed so much in it like her beloved Hawthorn, and love of roses, pansies and the garden.


Madge Martion was born on the 11th of November 1927. She was the third daughter born to James Illawarra (Sham) and Lylia Ethyl Abbott. A treasured sister and sister-in-law to Aileen (Infant dec), Valerie (dec) & Kevin, Jack & Elayne, Jimmy & Roma, William – Friz, Tom (Infant dec), Joy (Infant dec), Robert – Bob (dec) & Elaine.

Madge was raised with her siblings at 1 Darts Avenue. The current not so ‘new’ building now occupies the space where the family home of Sham and Lylia once stood. It was an old house, with many stories, and more troubled times than good through wars and depression. Madge attended the Nypo and Yaapeet Schools until the tender age of 15 years when she earned her ‘certificate of merit’. Leaving school to help alongside her mother, she cooked at the local Middle and Top pubs, before beginning helping in the kitchen at the Rainbow Hospital. After Lylia’s passing in 1962 it opened the opportunity for Madge to fill her mother’s position at the hospital, and she took on the role in 1963. Madge worked in the Rainbow Hospital kitchen for 37 years.

Madge also dabbled in catering with the Websters, she cleaned Strauss’s and Farrell’s, and ironed for many in the town.

Madge worked hard all of her life. She knew the value of calluses on hands and a Pound note.

In 1947 a young Madge married Edmond Andrew Martion (dec). They had five children together. Aileen (dec), William, Robert (Infant dec), Faye (dec), and John. They lived out of town on the farm North of Rainbow for the earlier years with their five children, until tragedy struck and the death of young Robert eventually forced Madge to move back into the family home on Darts Ave. Madge continued to raise her four surviving children at Darts Ave, essentially as a working, single mother after eventually separating from Eddy.

Her babies flew the nest one by one over the years and Madge gained her son and daughter in-laws, Arthur, Rodney and Fay. Years passing she became the Little Granny Mart to eleven grandchildren; Susan, Catherine, Dale, Naomi, Maaike, Lana, Shaula, Shasta, Criena, Ellisha and Lylia.  And the last two decades have celebrated her as our white-haired-Great-Granny Mart to nineteen great-grandchildren.

Her beloved Rainbow knew her well, and loved her more. Madge was a ritualistic and practiced woman, who regardless of the weather would set on walking up Federal Street every day for the paper, and never missed her Friday ‘set’ at Vals, or staying up until late on a Wednesday night playing ‘500’. She always completed the weekly puzzle books leaning over the table, and she built countless jigsaws and completed millions crosswords over the years.

Madge was a witty, articulate and measured woman who executed everything she did with tenacity and purpose.

Undoubtedly a fine cook in her own right, she whacked together the dog turds fresh off the lawn, (for the uninitiated), and a batch of her biscuits; both staples in her home and anticipated by every guest. Anything shared to her was repaid in whatever she made from it; tomato relish, fruit jams, pickles and soups.

Madge was social and generous, and loved being involved. She was community bound and community driven. Finding her elbows deep in the sink at a funeral or out in the street sweeping the neighbour’s front gutter; pulling bindy-eyes out of the dirt in the alley and so too on her way up the street using a stay-sharp knife was not unusual.

She had dresses for every occasion, and an occasion for every dress; the wedding frock, the gardening dress, the cooking dress, she sweeping the street dress, and they all had a string of pearls or beads, a brooch to match and don’t forget the lippy. A sweet tooth like no other, her favs were the humbugs and peppermints and she loved anything chewy, even giving a red skin a go, to which she had met her match, resigning to removing her teeth to peel it off her plate, all while smirking from the other side of the table.

She loved a hug and a smooch and would b-line for the young men of the family with her red lippy. Madge was a loyal friend to many but Val Dickson, her side kick will be excited to welcome her home on the other side of the Rainbow with a weak cup of tea and a slice of lemon in it… and undoubtedly a ciggy!

Many of you will have stories of Madge. They’ll be funny. They’ll be admirable. They’ll even be sad. Madge’s story is one of solid fortitude and perseverance. She was dealt really some tough times but she weathered them all. Every wrinkle on her face was earned and she wore them with pride, for she knew how far she had come.

Almost 90 years of a changing world and changing people, saying hello and saying good bye to many that she loved. She was an inspirational human. People were drawn to Madge, the little old lady with white hair, the savvy, opinionated woman, who dealt a mean hand of cards on Card Night, and was never short of a snippet of gossip while meandering the streets of Rainbow.

She welcomed her family and guests with a warm heart, and her heart is what Rainbow gained forever on Friday, 18th of August. Little towns are made up of little icons, and Madge is undeniably one of them.

Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!



6 thoughts on “Over the Rainbow

  1. That was gorgeous! I was a kitchen hand at the hospital in about 1987-1989 and Madge was definitely a lovely character. Whenever I cut my toast in triangles I think “will I cut it off the corner like Madge?”. I don’t know why the unique way she cut the toast has stuck in my memory for so many years, but it has.
    What lovely memories you must have xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Nom such a beautiful story about your Gran – Had never met her but feel I know a little about her from your lovely words – made me laugh and cry and see that you have a lot of her lovely traits too


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