Monday, January 10, 2011

Let's have a chat Nanny

It struck me today after chatting with my mother and my Grandmother via Skype: I've never had a proper conversation with my Grandmother. And she likely won't be on this planet for much longer. She's not ill. She's just old. When my grandfather passed in 2005, she moved out East to be closer to my mother and truth be told, to give my Aunt & Uncle a much needed rest from years of looking after them.

I have scattered memories of her:
- Her standing by the stove stirring a pot of chilli in the duplex she and my Grandfather shared for years. She always made chilli for us when we came to visit.
- "Jenny, looks like you've gained some weight." Yup, she ALWAYS commented on weight gain or weight loss. I used to resent it. Now, I just look back and laugh. She always tells it like it is.
- Her sitting by silently and dutifully while my Grandfather "talked politics".
- Blatantly ignoring a lady friend at her home, an old teacher I used to have. In fact, in mid-conversation, she came over, interrupted us and said above her, "Jenny, why are you here talking to HER? The dining room's about to open for lunch." I was mortified.
- How she handed me a pair of tweezers and asked me to pluck her mustache because, "Jenny dear, your old Nanny doesn't see so well anymore"...on my wedding day.
- Hearing how she was telling everyone at my brother's wedding that I was gorgeous and should have gone to Hollywood.
- Sears. She used to work at Sears for years. The sound those crinkly blue Sears bags used to make.
- Her smell. A waft of floral perfume mixed with baby powder.
- The $25 cheques we'd get in the mail for our birthdays.
- Hip replacements.
- The confused look on her face when, on the day of my grandfather's funeral, Hubby announced to my family that I was pregnant. She didn't have her hearing aid turned up and missed the whole thing. I had to go over and tell her while everyone was jumping up and down screaming.
- She's funny. I'm trying with all my might to remember some good Nanny quotes but they're escaping me. She's witty that's for sure. Oh, here's one, to my mother: "You better put down that piece of fudge...your waist is bigger than mine."
- Basking in the glow of victory as home resident after home resident stopped by our lunch table to comment on how well-behaved my 2 and a half year old was.
- Cheap and generous. They both lived through the depression and scrimped and saved to the point where they'd recycle coffee grounds and miss out on trips to save pennies. When my grandfather died, he had left her a small fortune. She made sure each of her children and grandchildren got some cash.
- Some kind of nervous breakdown she had back when her three children were young. For a time, they lived with a friend. My mother doesn't talk about it. I found out from my cousin.

She lived a life of servitude, to her husband and her Church primarily. And she's still going. And as each day passes, I miss another chance to sit her down and have a talk. Ask her questions. Find out more about her childhood, her life. God willing, I'll see her again in July. And at that time, I will take her aside, away from the joyful chaos that will be our family reunion, and I will have a chat with my Grandmother. Because after 34 years, I'd like to get to know her a bit better.


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