Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Memories of Nannie

I lost my last grandparent yesterday. My Nannie died from pneumonia...but really she was just tired and ready to move on. She was 88. I have so many memories of her that they all get jumbled up in my mind sometimes. So, I'm going to attempt to get a few of them written down here so I don't forget them.

She was a teacher at the core of her being. She was always trying to teach someone something. It might have been how to do long division, how to crochet or how to properly make toast, but she was always teaching.

She loved Christmas. It was her favorite holiday by far, and she would plan and save all year to make christmas a huge celebration. She loved her Christmas tree and had to have it just so with lots of tinsel. Every year one of the presents she would give to me and my brother was a big box of junk food like candy bars and cookies. I would hide that box under my bed and eat from it all year.

She made the best macaroni and tomatoes, toast made under the oven broiler, chicken noodles, and canned pickles. My brother and I would eat breakfast at her house most Saturday mornings and she would make over easy eggs for me and cut them into tiny pieces.

She was a collector. For years she collected salt and pepper shakers and displayed in her living room. Later she collected photographs and had them covering every wall in her home. She also collected shot glasses, even though she never drank a drop.

She was a saver as well. She saved everything she thought someone might want or need later. When my daughter was born, Nannie pulled out a dress and a rattle that was mine when I was a baby. She had saved them for me.

She was an entrepreneur, and after she retired from teaching she opened up her own craft businesses. She had one called Betty's Knot shop. That was when I was pretty little, so I'm not sure what she sold, but I think it was macrame. After that she got interested in ceramics. She would pour her own slip into molds, then fire them in her own kiln and sell them unpainted or paint them herself to sell as finished products. I remember painting several pieces with her, and I remember playing with the leftover wet ceramic clay when she would be working on that part of the process. She took classes to learn new painting techniques and produced some beautiful pieces, but she never really thought they turned out well. She was her own worst critic when it came to her arts and crafts.

After the ceramics, she became interested in other crafts like crochet, cross stitch and plastic canvas. She taught me how to do most of that as well. I didn't retain a lot of that info, but I have retained a lot of the things she made for me and my kids.

She and Pa both loved traveling. When I was little they would take me with them on vacations to all parts of the US. I was too young to really remember them, but I have a few snippets of memories. Nannie would always pack lots of food for the road and we would make tiny cracker sandwiches in the backseat while Pa drove. She always sat back there with me instead of in the front seat. She collected magnets from every state she visited. I believe she has one from the 48 contiguous states.

I tried to get her and Pa to go to Hawaii with me once, but she was afraid to fly. She did finally get on an airplane when her first great-grandchild was born. She had to come see the baby.

She was very interested in family history, old photos and the family tree. A lot of her traveling was to meet with distant relatives. She and Pa attended a few family reunions every year for a while to visit with distant family.

She loved games! From as early as I can remember she was always pulling out the board games, card games, dominoes and the like for us to play after school or on Saturdays when we were at her house. We would play Concentration, Careers, Monopoly, Sorry, and a multitude of card games. At family reunions everyone would play various card games and dominoes. And the last time the kids and I came to visit we ended up playing dominoes as well. As it became harder for her to walk, even if she didn't really feel like walking to the table, she would come over to play a game.

She loved to read and loved to read to others. One of my favorite things as a kid was to have her read to me. I'd keep bringing the same books to her to read and she'd read them over and over. When I would visit her with my kids, she continued the cycle and would read to them. They loved it, too.

A few years ago I made her a birthday card called "10 Things I learned from Nannie". These were the things that made the list.

10 Things I've learned from Nannie

1. How to read and love books.
2. How to do crafts and cross-stitch
3. The love of Games and that grown-ups can play, too
4. The love of learning!
5. The love of Road trips.
6. How to raise children with patience
7. That we should know about our family’s past.
8. The love of photos.
9. That family always takes care of family.
10. How to Love unconditionally.

I'll miss you Nannie! I already do...

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