Tag Archives: grandmothers

Spirograph and Worn Antiques

I have been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately. The one who is deceased, not the one who is alive. Granny is still dipping snuff and listening to country music in her ranch-style home. Nana is somewhere with that great spirit in the sky, perhaps noshing on walnuts and dancing to Glenn Miller.

But I have felt her presence lately. I’m not sure why she has decided to visit but I will welcome it nevertheless.

The other day I was sitting at the dining room table, a worn 1920’s set I inherited from Nana’s mother. For a moment I was ten again, or rather wished I was. I could hear echoes of my cousin’s laughter and smell the buttered toast Nana would broil for us every morning. I could see her spinning in the front room to the sound of the jazz album. I could feel the spongy firmness of the big eraser I used to delete scattered lines from my latest Spirograph design.

There was always something to do at Nana and Papa’s. Whether it was trudging and scavenging and playing among Papa’s junk yard or dancing to the music from the turn table and playing “Office” in the living room or being a guinea pig in one of my older cousin’s traps or home-made haunted houses in the basement.

Sometimes it feels like those times were a hundred years ago. But thank god I have those memories at least.

I love that my own son now plays around that worn antique set. Does his homework there. Builds Legos. Has chatty weeknight dinners with me there. I bought him a Spirograph set a while back. He didn’t quite take to it like I thought he would.

I think my Nana would be proud of me for the most part. Maybe that’s why she visits from time to time. Just to let me know.

And to remind me to keep dancing.

glenn miller dancing

 

 

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The Worn Path in the Carpet

Lately I feel like I’m turning into my grandmother.

I’m going through walnuts like they’re becoming extinct. My nana’s cheeks were perpetually bloated with the masticating remnants of an assortment of nuts. She somehow managed to keep them from spewing out as she multitasked between chewing, housework, and yelling at us kids. But never in anger. Always questions, like how many pieces of butter toast did we want for breakfast.

And speaking of multitasking, she did it every minute of the day, but she didn’t do it well. I pride myself on being an esteemed multitasker. But I find sometimes these tasks are not completed, merely started and left to sit unfinished like Nana’s breakfast dishes. She would “wash” them all day long. It would be time to start dinner and the toast crust would still be lingering on the edges of the Currier & Ives.

There are days when my breakfast dishes are still stacked next to the sink when the sun is setting and I’m searching for the wine opener.

Nana also loved chocolate. Fudge to be exact. She made three homemade pans full (with nuts of course) in the afternoon and by evening they’d be scraped clean. But the woman never gained a pound. Her house boasted a pea-green carpet that had a path worn thin from her constant moving about. I don’t think I ever saw her sit down. My floors are tile so there are no threadbare indications of ceaseless activity. But at least a half dozen times a day I will enter a room and say aloud, “Now why the hell did I come in here?”

But in the evening when I’m walking in the kitchen I know exactly what I’m there for. The chocolate.

Nana was also very scatter-brained. She eventually ended up with Alzheimer’s. Lately I have lost the spatula and the dustpan, and for the life of me have no idea where they could have gone. I also lose track of my point or story mid-sentence, and sometimes call my son every name except his own. She used to do this too. When she got to the dog’s name, Fuzzy, we knew she was close.

The fact I feel I’m losing my mind recently is cause for concern. Am I really becoming Nana? Am I gonna get Alzheimer’s? I still know the key is for the door. I just don’t know where I put it.

At Nana’s funeral they played Glenn Miller’s In the Mood. We all sat, heads hung low. I imagined her swinging with Papa at some cool speakeasy. And then I imagined her the way I remembered. Her taking time out of the daily and nightly grind of tending to husband and house and kids to stop and just cut a freaking rug. Usually in the front room next to the stereo turntable. I always loved that she danced.

Nana dancing

Nana always danced with me.

When I have my kitchen dance party, or cut a rug in the living room, or groove in front of the bathroom mirror I am channeling some of that energy.

She is within me. I am a part of her. I hope I’m not going crazy. But if I am, I hope I’ll be dancing all the way to the nursing home. And I hope a bar of chocolate will be in the top drawer of my dresser. Just like we used to leave for her. But please let it be dark. With nuts, of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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