Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Nanny

So, Nanny passed away five days after Kennerly was born. My mom's phone rang just after she finished helping me get settled into nursing the baby. She said, "It's my brother, Billy," as she went to answer and I just knew. We found out a few days earlier that hospice was called in to the nursing home for Nanny.

It was not an easy call to receive, I saw the gut wrenching pain of a daughter losing her mother wreck itself through my mom. The moments that followed are all still clear in my mind, but it has taken me months to be able to put things into words. Nanny's service wasn't until last weekend, so I guess I felt like I could kind of "put off" mourning. The first few days after she was gone weren't easy, I cried a lot and was feeling so sad for my mom and her siblings, and myself, my siblings and our cousins. But after those first few days, it was easier to pretend nothing had changed. Easy isn't always right, but it's just that...easy.

Nanny was a huge part of our lives. But that was a long time ago. For more than the past ten years, Nanny had been living a life that was not the one we want to remember. What I want to remember is my soft spoken yet exuberant grandmother snapping along with a song and tapping her toes to the beat. I have a vivid memory of her teaching me how to keep the beat in my childhood bedroom with my huge boom box blaring. That same memory includes when she told me she wanted to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. Later that day, she told my mom, "Caitlyn said I could walk with her down the aisle when she gets married!" It will always break my heart that she wasn't even able to be at my wedding.

Nanny loved ceramics, she loved Buffy, she loves taking us to sliding rock, she loved walks along Tom's Drive. All the memories that came flooding back when Gramps passed away just a few short months before, came to the forefront once again. I wasn't surprised that she went so soon after him. I think that's how God works. Even though they spent most of the end of their lives separated, I always pictured them reuniting in Heaven and being together the way we all remember them.

Their love story was one for the books. They met when they were young, just barely teenagers, had their first date to see Gone With the Wind, then out for shakes afterward. Nanny told me the tale of how they fell in love and were married before Gramps left for the war. I remember hearing this story from both of them, but my mom recently found a report I did on the differences in dating when I was a teenager and when my grandparents dated. I interviewed Nanny and wrote a paper on it. Throughout the interview she kept telling me (as she often did when I was in high school) that just because she was married at seventeen didn't mean that I should even think about it at that age. I laughed every time she gave me this warning, because I had zero thoughts of marriage when I was seventeen, but she was so serious about how things were different back then. She called it "an age of innocence."

Anyhow, the memories I have of Nanny don't hurt to think about anymore. All that time that she and Gramps were in the nursing homes, it was hard to remember how they were before, hard not to wish they were still that way as we got older and had our own children. While it's difficult not to wish things were different, now that they are both at peace, it's easier for me to look back, remember and smile at all the times Nanny's smile lit up a room or her hug embraced me like only a grandmother's can. So many memories go flashing through my head and they all make me smile and tear up at the same time. I was so so lucky to have this woman in my life, to get to be her granddaughter. I miss her with all my heart.

Kennerly is just as lucky to have her Nanny, my mom. They share the same mannerisms, the same forgetfulness (in the form of putting things in places that make zero sense, then being surprised to later find those things in those places) and even the same snapping fingers and tapping to keep the beat to a song. I see so much of my Nanny in Kennerly's Nanny and it makes my heart happy again.

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