One year ago today my Nana passed away. She was an incredible woman (and quite a looker as a young, skinny blond!) and I admire her for so many things.
She was never afraid to speak her mind and even though some of her statements were not very polite, she was honest and I respect that. The example that immediately comes to mind is when she told me that I could wear my mother’s wedding dress if I lost some weight. Please keep in mind that I was a 5’7″ 14-year-old and my mom was 5’3″ and 98 pounds when she got married.
Nana made delicious baked egg custard and loved creme brule. My mouth is watering at the thought of it…I will always think of her when I see crystallized sugar. She did get mad at me one time when I scooped most of the “crust” off a batch!
My grandmother had to grow up fast. She was married with her first child at age 15 and by the time she was 22, she had four kids. It was not an ideal situation but it was her situation and she took care of her family as best she could. She also loved children’s books, which may be why my mom has a collection and why I inevitably will.
Nana had a soft spot for animals. I’ve never known her to be without dogs or cats but she also had pet goats, a macaw and an iguana. I wasn’t a big fan of the lizard or the parrot but I admire how she could love each of these pets despite their screeching, biting and scratching. Thank goodness those are in other households now! In the last year of her life, she had to give away some of the dogs, who she loved like her own babies, because her in-home caregivers could not also tend to them. These pups also loved Nana. The one dog she was allowed to keep didn’t leave her side for weeks. My parents are now taking care of two of my grandmother’s dogs: Lou Lou and Tootsie (see previous posts for pictures).
I inherited my mom and grandmother’s love for flea markets. We spent the summer in Florida at Nana’s house (left to her in her cousin’s will) and every year we would go to a huge indoor flea market. She loved antiques (even had a room at an antique store in Virginia for a few years). We would wander up and down the aisles, stopping at each vendor and usually leaving with a car full of goodies. I also inherited the love of jewelry. To this day I play in my mom’s jewelry box just like she always played in her mother’s. There were many good finds at the flea market to satisfy our craving for gems.
There were rough patches in Nana’s adult life. Her marriage ended in 1998 and it ripped our family apart. My mom stuck by her side through it all and that meant I got to keep making memories with my beloved grandmother. Her medical and psychological issues were hard for her and for us to deal with but in my family we take care of those we love.
She gave me my first car, money to help pay for school bills and gorgeous jewelry but there’s more to her life and legacy than material possessions. I already admire her honesty, love, strength and youthfulness. Even though she’s no longer with us I know that I will continue to learn more life lessons from my Nana.