On Sunday, one of my favorite people passed away. She wasn’t my Nanny by blood but rather by choice. Nanny – or Nana as my son and I call her for some reason unknown at the moment – was my ex-husband’s aunt’s mom who I met when I was 18. Obviously, we go way back.
So why was I so enamored with Nanny? That lady was a hoot! Some words often used to describe all 4’10″ of her include “spunky”, “spit fire” and “fun”. She was always laughing, had a great attitude and outlook on life. I remember back in the early 90s when doing iron-ons on sweatshirts with puff-paint around the edges was in vogue – Nanny had them! She’d show up for the family Christmas party and tell me how much fun they had making them at the Senior Center. ”You have to keep busy!” she would always say.
I had lost touch with the family for a while after my divorce but reconnected about 2 years ago. I had kept tabs on Nanny through my son – he always said she was his favorite little old lady ever. The day he was taller than her was a big day for both of them. When I heard she was turning 100 in September 2011, I knew time was of the essence! I needed at least one last trip back east to see her.
When I went to visit she was still her spunky self in spite of a body that was giving her grief. Some of the things she shared with me that stuck include…
“Don’t get the diabetes! I miss my sweets!” (She was 98 when she got diabetes, not bad Nanny!)
“Getting old is boring! I don’t sleep well at night and keep falling asleep during the day. All I have to watch is this tv and it takes a lot of effort to get up and go to the window to hopefully see a squirrel…”
When Aunt Shirley told her she had missed her grandson stopping by she was hysterical. She looked at me and did a big sigh. ”Tara, those kids need to wake me up! They think they are doing me a favor by letting me sleep but I’m B-O-R-E-D!!! Wake me up so I don’t miss the excitement!” She was smiling because she knew in her heart they meant well – I passed on the message and hope that no one let her sleep through anything interesting again.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to live to almost 102…
When Nanny was born in 1911, her life expectancy was about 50. (Way to beat those odds!)
Unemployment was at 6.7% and a stamp cost 2¢.
Ronald Reagan was born and the Philadelphia A’s (yes! They were there before Oakland!) beat the NY Giants to win the World Series.
The Camp Fire Girls were founded, the first issue of Boy’s Life magazine was published and the New York Public Library was dedicated.
In her lifetime she saw a LOT of changes and met them all with a smile.
We will miss you Nanny and I will always consider you a role model for how to be happy and embrace all that life brings our way. Rest in Peace.
- Tara Reed