Friday, January 23, 2009

My Nana

My Nana and Me-1978 My Nana passed away on January 26, 2008. She has come up in my solitary thoughts of late, usually when I am up in the middle of the night nursing one of the babies. Here are some of those thoughts that I'd like to share with you. My Nana was a very classy lady. She dressed elegantly, knew how to entertain, and was deeply invested in environmental conservation and human rights. She hated war. She could sit in the sun all day. She always lit a candle for dinner. She made crumpets in a coffee can. She shopped at Trader Joes. She gave me my first taste of cream cheese and introduced me to artichokes. She loved the color blue. She always wore hairpins. She would have loved to have seen the day we elected a half-black man into the highest office in our country. I have an early memory of her and I in her jaunty brown Celica driving to meet an old friend at the Mission Ranch for lunch. As we pulled out of the driveway of their fantastic home in the Carmel Woods, she remarked that we were running late and would barely make it by the skin of our teeth. I remember being delighted that she would say such a thing, and we had a good laugh at how there really was no such thing as skin on teeth. When Nana and Papa would come to visit, they'd sleep on the pull-out couch in our family room. Papa was always up very early in the morning, and usually out walking, so I'd go get in bed with Nana and we'd play I Spy for what seemed like forever. My Nana raised three children on a single income in Carmel and so had to spend very prudently. However, she didn't skimp on quality. I remember trips to Brinton's with her. And Dansk. And the Macy's Cellar. One day she took me to Del Monte Center and bought me my first purse. A small blue denim one with a yellow pear painted on the front pocket. How stylish. How novel. How super my Nana was to supply me with my first small bridge into the realm of big-girldom. I adored her for that. In the eyes of a little girl, Nana had a fabulous bathroom. It smelled like Lily of the Valley perfume, Jean Nate, hairspray and mildew (as did most rooms of that house, encased in fog or assaulted by salty air every day of the year). The counter top was littered with bottles of perfume, lipstick, lotions and other cosmetic concoctions. She had baskets of hair clips, necklaces hanging on the wall and a bizarre hairdryer with a plastic brush attached to it. What a place for a little girl to explore! My brother and I liked to play in their backyard. Forested and banked, it was the backdrop for any imaginative play a child could dream up. My brother and I would prepare for "hikes" into the jungle and Nana would equip us with small paper cups full of peanuts and raisins to sustain us on our journey. As this is an honest account of my memories, I wanted to stay true to my Nana as a three dimensional person. She was a beautifully real and imperfect person. As I grew up, I saw her faults. She was too honest. She was critical. She was difficult to please in a restaurant. She had a need to control. Then I grew up a little bit more and saw the same (or different) faults in myself. In everyone. I would forgive her, and she would deserve it. Nana loved the beach and the ocean. She loved beauty in nature. She made wonderful apricot jam and pumpkin chiffon pie. She came to my track and cross country meets, saw me graduate from junior high, high school and college. She met Bug as a baby. She would have loved Bug as a toddler.
Days became difficult as Nana neared the end of her life. But she still took pleasure in simple things like a walk, the sunshine, birds at the feeders outside her window, reading the paper. I often think of Nana when I see something I know she would have enjoyed, like a certain color or a piece of jewelry with a lapis gemstone. I hope there are parts of her in me that I can pass on to my children and grandchildren, with imperfection, with beauty, with class. Just like my Nana.

4 comments:

unexplainthis said...

Beautiful tribute to a great lady. She is with you and your family always.

Dana said...

Thanks for sharing your memories of your Nana! I loved her laugh and I will remember her as such a gracious lady, I loved her dearly.

Erin said...

What a beautiful post. It's amazing when you think about it how greatly one person can impact your life. You described all your memories in such detail. I felt as if I knew her too. This post has inspired me to write about memories of my grandmother as well. Thank you Linda Lou. You truly and deeply loved your Nana. She would be proud!

Mr. M said...

I think that it is so important that we relive and recall our precious memories...your fondness of your Nana shows how special she must have been.