"She hasn't just told me how to live a good life. She has shown me."

Melissa Wellham

My Gran is a tough lady. She’s sometimes a little scary, but she’s also extraordinarily giving. She defies definition and characterisation.

She has always cared for me. Picked me up from school when I needed to be picked up. Driven me to music lessons, back when I could be convinced to turn my tone-deaf ear to a musical instrument. But what I value most are the lessons she has taught me, through her actions and experiences.

Her life lessons have become my life lessons – both the good and the bad.

Growing up, she did what she was expected to do, by her family and by the standards of ‘what people did’. She studied to become a teacher (because as she often says, there were only three careers available to women back then: teacher, typist and nurse).

But once she graduated from teacher’s college, she and two of her friends travelled from Australia over to England – which took six weeks by ship – to road trip around the country.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal today, but this was 1956. Three Aussie girls traveling around the UK – alone, no less! – was virtually unheard of. My Gran and her friends bought a secondhand taxi, turned it into their tour car, and had the time of their lives.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Dove. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

Looking back and thinking about the courage this would have taken, I am so glad to have had my Gran as a role model.

In 1965, travel was a big deal – especially women travelling alone!

She taught me that I should never be afraid to push boundaries, or do something different to what was expected of me. And although that’s a life lesson popularised on postcards and magnets, it means so much more that I learned it from her.

But she has also taught me difficult lessons.

When my Gran met my grandfather, he was told he would only live to 30. But they got married – had three beautiful daughters, travelled the world together, and shared everything – and he didn’t pass away until 2009 when he was in his early 80s.

He was, however, always sick – and my Gran looked after him for his whole life. It could be mentally and physically exhausting, for both of them. In 2002, he had a stroke, and became paralysed in half of his body. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk properly, for a while. He couldn’t do anything for himself.

My Gran went from caring for my grandfather, to being his fulltime carer.

She devoted years of her life to caring for him in the last years of his.

The lessons she taught me through this experience, are just as important as the lessons about forging my own path.

She taught me that loving people usually requires sacrifice. And that caring for someone unconditionally isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be really, really hard.


Through watching my grandmother I have learned how to be idealistic and realistic.

My Gran has shaped me and cared for me in many ways – but a big part of this, has been by helping me understand the world through her eyes. She hasn’t just told me her life lessons; she has set an example through her actions.

She hasn’t just told me how to live a good life. She has shown me.

Here are some other strong women who make positive role models for young women:


Who’s the woman in your life that has influenced you to be the person you are today?

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