Sunday, January 19, 2014

R.I.P. Nana

My aunt posted this photo to Facebook today. I have no sense of how old she is in this picture.

My grandmother has been central in my life since, well, ever. My parents were seriously young when they got married and with dad off to Vietnam (it was the way he could provide for his family and there was no option but for him to provide for his family [Exhibit C is the work ethic that was instilled in him and passed down, at least 70% of it was, to me from his dad]), my mom lived with her parents, who I would always call Nana and Joey.

When I came along within a year of Christina, Nana would handle me while my mom handled my sister. It's entirely possible this is a symptom of a deep misogyny in their family, or maybe it's just everything Peggy goes through on Mad Men brought to life. All I know is I enjoyed several years as the only grandson and that did not suck.

I should also acknowledge something that I've seen several times now--some people may not be great parents but can become spectacular grandparents. And I don't mean spectacular in terms of spoiling or overcompensating except maybe sometimes a little, but it's more about being able to express support and love in a way that somehow you're not with your own kids or maybe that you can't hear from your own parents.

Growing up I thought she was the best cook in the world. I'm fairly certain this was not the case. In fact I cringe a little thinking about how she would mix stewed tomatoes into cake mix (later she used canned peaches). Chocolate and stewed tomato cake. Take that taste buds.

It only matters because I totally failed to appreciate how great a cook my other grandmother was and that only matters because it was something she was proud of and I'm sure a little appreciation from your grand kids never sucks.

I've been blessed to know all 4 grandparents plus some of my great grandparents. My mom's been living with Nana for a while now so I've seen her every year (except last year while is a whole other thing, ask me later) for at least the last decade. Give or take (if you have a better accounting of my time, let me know and I'll correct this.)

She was an old school Catholic, refusing to eat fish on Fridays and attending mass every Saturday afternoon (she also liked to sleep in). If Catholicism or Christianity is the right answer, she should be in good shape about now. I'm also pretty sure that if whatever after life she's in has her meeting up with Joey she'll wonder what went wrong (in the sense that she was sure he was a sinner who was going to hell, as one does with a spouse). The joke is hysterical to me but possibly hard to explain. Just smile and nod.

It's probably also worth mentioning she would have LOVED the show Trading Spaces because sometimes, like when my mother was in the hospital (also at least once with my aunt), Nana would do a surprise make-over on some part of the house. Imagine my mother's surprise at finding her kitchen and dining room transformed including contact paper on the dining room table top. I was too young at the time to understand that contact paper is not meant as a furniture surface. My mother, weak from the hospital, probably didn't need the complication of needing to evict her mother ASAP in order to un-make-over those rooms... my mother has endured quite a bit in her time.

Oh and OMG baseball and football. Indians and Browns. Would it have killed her to pick decent teams? Perhaps that's what happened today (that also won't land well but here and now, funny).

She loved baseball and football and westerns and Dr.Quinn Medicine Woman which, technically, may be in because it's a western. I don't know that she loved it as much as it was the latest show that was always on the TV when there wasn't a game.

And she loved her grand kids. And great grand kids. And great great grand kids.

Especially the grandsons. And there are only 2 of us. I had a good run while it lasted.

Normally I'd post a song and Nana wasn't someone I associate with music at all. Except out of the blue one time when she asked me about Nana Mouskari. The "Nana" part was happenstance, I think, and it was lucky for me that Mouskari was on a record label that one of my friends worked at. I think I got CDs, cassettes and possibly a cardboard stand-up of her (Mouskari, not my Nana, which would be cool but weird) sent to me that week.  Maybe she listened to them, possibly not. But it gives me a song to close out on.

She is survived by 4 children, 9 grandchildren (one passed decades ago which is another sad story), somewhere between 8 and 12 great grandchildren (I'm not really into enumerating right now) and at least 4 great great grandchildren. And my 3 dogs, I guess.

Rest in peace dude.

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