My mom got me thinking about my Nanny today. Levi was laying on the floor babbling and looking straight up, even kinda had his head tilted back some, like he was looking at something specific but there was nothing physically above him. Mom said she likes to think when he does this he is talking to Nanny.
Nanny graduated to her home in heaven in December 2017. We all still miss her terribly and think of her often. When she passed, my Papa, her husband, was in such poor health that we all focused on helping him get better and helping him cope. For me, I also wanted to honor that the experience was harder for my Papa because she was his better half, his best friend and they had been married almost 60 years, which is twice as long as I have been alive. I knew it was harder for my mom and dad because this was their mom, their encourager, prayer warrior and biggest fan. So I think I put a lot of the grief in a box like the pictures we were sorting through, something I could find later when we had more time, something I couldn’t deal with while keeping it together for those who were hurting so much more than me. I think this is a natural feeling when family passes away, everyone trying to be strong for one another and setting aside some of how they feel so that the logistics can be handled. Before you know it, 9 months have passed.
I figured it is time that I write some things about my time with this amazing woman I got to call my Nanny. I want to write these memories down for 2 reasons- 1 it is therapeutic, 2 they will be here to share with my children and my niece when my memory has failed to hold onto them tightly enough.
Nanny was so creative. She had homemade decorations and crafts all over her entire home. Mostly puzzles that she and Papa had put together, glued and set in frames that Papa built. Lots of other unique decorations too, like tires, painted to look like birds, that swung from the trees in the backyard. Handmade quilts that multiple family members had put together, she even helped me make one for Kaitlin before she was born. Birdhouses out back that Papa built and Nanny painted. We had done many wood projects with her and Papa when we were little, painting them while wearing Nanny’s old t-shirts. My dad and his siblings even recall her sewing and making all their clothes and costumes when they were kids.
She had pictures of family on nearly every wall and definitely in every room. There was no question that her family were the most important people to her.
She loved tending to her flower garden in front and helping Papa with the vegetable garden in back. They would sit on the back porch in their swinging seats watching the birds come to the feeders. She especially loved butterflies and even decorated her whole dining room in them. The living room was Thomas Kinkade puzzles and her turtles everywhere. The kitchen covered in sunflowers. The guest bath was Odessa High themed for almost my entire life but she redecorated after Kara graduated (her last grandbaby to join the ranks of proud Bronchos.) She passed the OHS bathroom decorations on to me since I started teaching there soon after. Her master bath was seashells and beach themed. She always said it was so she could think of the pieces of her heart in Florida. In the back bedroom she would fold a towel like an animal, the way they do on the cruises, and she had a towel monkey, orangutan I think, hanging from the curtain rod. Books in every room. She put so much care into every detail. She always made everyone feel welcome in her home.
She always kept ice cream and treats around. She always made big meals with all the fixins. After I was grown, she loved having me over for dinner and just hanging out at the table together. Afterwards, we would all go to the living room to watch a movie or a couple episodes of TV before the nightly 10 o’clock news. Then back to the table for a game of rummikub. Such sweet time together.
I know it is my hope that one day I will have a warm home to welcome grandkids and extended family, like Nanny always did. I know Nanny and Papa were never rich. I know many things were re-purposed or re-imagined, and so much was used and patched until it couldn’t last a second longer. Frugal she called it. And she was so brilliant at it and so content in it. She never mentioned longing for things she did not have, at least not to me. I think the most clear example of her frugal abilities was the carpet in the bedroom- a patchwork of discarded, found carpet squares that rightfully appeared like it belonged in the 70’s.
Even more than the incredible, welcoming home she built was the way she always made me feel. I can’t even recall a time she was ever mad at me or mean to me. I don’t recall her ever losing her temper. Now I do want to clarify I know no one is perfect. However, Nanny was pretty dang close. She loved so fiercely everyone that belonged to her. It is inspiring and I will try to honor her by doing the same.
I love you, Nanny. We all miss you. I do hope you are getting to watch Levi from heaven. I know he would have loved to meet you. I know you couldn’t wait to meet him. He knows you love him and I promise to always remind him. Thank you for raising such a wonderful man in my Daddy. I can never repay you for what an impact that has made in my life. He is much like you. So patient, so kind, so accepting. Thank you for being such a loyal, loving wife to Papa. I know now what an art form marriage is and you always handled it with such care.
I don’t think anyone of us measure up to you but I’m so grateful you set such a high bar for us all.