I come from a long line of strong, independent women. We don't breed shrinking violets in our ranks and if my daughter's first eight years on this planet are anything to go by, that tradition is in safe hands (God help me). One of six children, my grandmother has always been a force to be reckoned with. I wrote about her 100th birthday last October and of the moving recognition that she received from local members Justin Clancy and Sussan Ley, then-premier Dominic Perrottet, Anthony Albanese, and even King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla - a more worthy tribute of this milestone, I could not imagine. And these missives were received with gratitude and appreciation. Not to mention a little chuckle. From my childhood, my Nana always told me to reach for the stars - they weren't coming down to Earth for me. "You have to make your own magic," she'd say. "Don't wait for it, because it won't happen on its own!" Her pearls of wisdom have been sprinkled in my columns, sharing her opinions through my words. She taught me how to bake, passing down her recipes for shortcrust pastry, jam tarts, apple crumble, and her famous chocolate cake that was made especially for family birthdays every year. It may be easy to have looked at her recently and seen a "typical" old woman, but Nan was far from it. She served in WWII as a pay clerk for the British Army, was an Army Wife following the war and became an award-winning crack shot thanks to my Granddad teaching her how to shoot. They moved to Australia in the early 1970s for a new adventure and never left. Her life spanned an incredible period of human history, being born before women got the vote in Britain, and living to see so much change throughout the years. One of the many things she said to me was: "Your mind doesn't age. You feel the same on the inside that you did in your 20s, it's your body that ages and lets you down." This has stayed with me for over 20 years, and with this wisdom came an inner determination to appreciate every moment of my life - even the crap bits - for they have all shaped who I am, who I will become. Subsequently, I simply refuse to get older than 39. I am no longer keeping count. Thirty-nine was the last birthday I celebrated, so that's where I ceased to age - Nana agreed this was a very good idea and said she wished she'd thought of it sooner. My regular jaunts out to her home with the kids, armed with lattes and macarons (until she asked for chips next time like the kids had) brought giggles and mischief, but also landed us all in the odd spot of trouble. The woman in the room below Nana would pound on the ceiling with her walking stick because we were too loud by half having way too much fun together. It felt like we were in the Faraway Tree and Mr Watzisname was taking umbrage at the joy being felt elsewhere. These wonderful memories came to a sudden and forcible stop as COVID kept us apart, with limits to visitors at any one time meaning I couldn't take my children to see her. Nan worried about them catching COVID and we resorted to phone calls and sharing the odd FaceTime. But it wasn't the same. On Friday, April 28, Nan peacefully and quietly slipped away, surrounded by her girls as memories were shared and laughter was heard around her in those blissful last moments of her life. Nana was many things to many people - wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister, daughter, friend, mentor, cheerleader, Avon lady ... but she always represented strength, integrity and character for me growing up, with a healthy dose of mischief thrown in for good measure. READ MORE ZOË WUNDENBERG COLUMNS: She has made me determined to always be true to myself and to be ashamedly who I am, come what may. Nana, thank you for the years you gave to us, the wisdom you shared with us, the mischief that empowered us and the baked goodies that "shaped" us. May your sparkle light up the universe for all eternity. Pauline Vera Kermode - October 17, 1922 - April 28, 2023.