Friday, September 23, 2005

Nana Anna

A year ago today, my grandmother died. She was 90 (and a half) and had developed a highly aggressive form of cancer. Even though I lived away from her for eight years, she always played a very big role in my life.

Both my parents worked and their shifts started early, so my dad would drop us off at my grandmother’s in the mornings. She would give us breakfast, make sure we looked presentable and send us off to school. We walked to her house after school, where she would give us a snack and supervise our homework completion. Whatever study skills I had, I learned them at Nana’s round kitchen table.

I could tell you about Nana Anna all day. I could tell you the funny stuff – how she believed that breasts were muscles, how she once asked me if I had ESPN when she meant ESP, how she had a personal policy against wearing underwear. I could tell you the touching stuff – how she took care of my grandfather when he was goofy with the Alzheimer’s, how she took care of me when I was sick, how she was the glue that held our extended family together. I could tell you the things she taught me – how to colour inside the lines, how to bake, how to speak up when I felt something was wrong.

I could do all that, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to let Nana talk to you herself. No, I’m not crazy – I inherited her journals, letters and other papers. Earlier this week, I started to go through her journals. From 1980 to 1998, she kept a general journal where she recorded the happenings in our family and in the world news. She didn’t write every day, but she did try to at least provide summaries each month. I don’t know what happened in 1999, but Nana kept an entire journal devoted to 2000, focusing mostly on news headlines.

Nana chronicled our fevers, report cards, general moods, music concerts, dance recitals, school plays and haircuts. She recounted birthday and anniversary celebrations. She made frequent observations on the state of the world.

August 12, 1984 – The Olympics Closing Ceremony
The closing – marathon – equestrian medals – music superb – flag girls – fantastic – participants – warm – responsive – happy –

All athletes march together as idea of unity all countries enter as one continuous group – no selfishness – no bitterness – no hate –

Why can’t life be like this for all –
Women prove they can play as well as the men
Simeron gave this Olympics a 10
Volunteers were outstanding and marvelous

October 1998
Lou cleaned up the garden. His pumpkins were beautiful – colorful – dainty – shapely and plentiful.
Were in Windsor went to casino for a bit of excitement. Lois and Greg came along. We enjoyed all, food very good.
Getting ready for Halloween.
World Haiti a headache
Russian – threatening
Bosnia still a problem
Congress – Did nothing

Saturday January 1, 2000
My mother often wondered if any of her children would be around to celebrate the year 2000. She had passed into 1900 from 1800. Yes, Mom, one of us made it – your daughter, lucky enough.
January 1 was a quiet day for Lou and me. December, Friday the 31 of 1999 was jubilant. Sydney, Australia ushered in the first new year with huge figures and fireworks. Other cities were Rome, London, Paris, Spain, New York, Los Angeles. The most spectacular was Paris with the lighting of the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful color and all.

Another priceless treasure I inherited was a spiral-bound book called Grandmother Remembers. Someone gave this to Nana as a gift and she dutifully filled in many of the pages, recording her childhood, her parents’ lives, her daughters’ childhoods and her grandchildren’s births and early years. Now that she’s gone, it’s the only record of her growing up. I wish I’d seen this book before she died. I’d love to ask her some questions about some of the cryptic memories she scrawled down.

My favourite is on the Family Stories page. The prompt is “I still laugh…” My grandmother wrote: “The day my father brought a baby pig home after a confrontation with my mom.” Doesn’t that just make you insatiably curious? Why did he bring home a pig? What did it have to do with the argument? Was it alive? Did it stay alive? Did he want to have it as a pet?

I enjoyed reading her impressions of her three children and her six grandchildren:

Kathleen gave me so many trying hours because I always didn’t understand. Her steps in the snow where frightening to her. The stitches I experienced at the hospital. She was always most helpful.
Lois’ love of diving into a book and never being disturbed – regardless of events. The ability to fall asleep anywhere. Her love of chocolates and dance.
Priscilla’s way of getting her fingers caught in the mixer. Her devotion to whatever the task might be. Her love of dance throughout the years. Ever faithful.

Beth-Anne how small you were when little. Your listening ability and I still wonder what you are thinking about.
Shane the little trick you aggravated me about.
Patrick your ability to be too kind, even to me.
Jessica your love of talking talking talking you should be a lawyer
Matthew your quiet way and hiding things
Lisa your way of getting around all of us.

On the “My Grandchildren” page, contains the best words I could find to show how Nana was and what she wanted for us.

My wishes for you as you grow up:
That you all go out and be what you want to be – but with love in doing so, never forgetting to help and share with each other.
Nana Anna, thank you for teaching us how to love and share. I hope we can all live up to your example.


At 24 September 2005 at 02:02, Blogger Career Guy said...

You little shit! You made your mother cry--I hope you're happy now.

At 24 September 2005 at 09:28, Blogger -Ann said...

She was going to cry today anyway. I'm sure it wasn't the first time. (And I KNOW it wasn't the first time I made her cry.)

Besides, Mom is not exactly an Internet surfer. She wouldn't have even seen this unless someone (um YOU?) showed it to her.

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