I have been thinking a lot about my Nana lately. Not quite sure why, but I find her in my thoughts very often. Now, there are a few of you who read this blog who knew Nana when she was alive, so I probably don't need to say anything else, but for the folks who never met her, I will likely need to elaborate on the woman that was "Nana Baby." Yes, she was my grandmother, maternal grandmother and probably one of the best individuals who ever walked this earth. She lived with us for most of my formative years in an "in law apartment" in our house. I always say I owe alot of my confidence and sense of humor from my dad, my determination and my sense of style from my mom, my tenacity from the fact that I was tortured by Jerry, Michael, Billy & Dennis for most of my early years. I really believe the rest of who I am and HOW I am, comes from Nana.
She was the first person I saw when I walked through the door from school in the afternoon and she was usually frying something in a cast iron pan, something unhealthy, something that her doctor had probably forbid her to eat, that she had somehow convinced herself that he had said that it was ok. "Oh, my cardiologist says I can have all the bacon I want." Uh huh--ok Nana right! She made the best potato omelet ever created, and I still make it to this day. It's one of Michaela's favorite. (see, I am passing Nana's legacy on to the next generation).
She was famous for her chocolate chip cookies and her baked clams. You knew Nana made them because her eyesight wasn't that great, so there was usually a little bit of butter wrapper that you might find as you dug into your eleventh baked clam. Everything she cooked, she showed me how to make it. I am sure that's where my love of cooking and food came from. It's probably also where my current large ASS comes from too. But that's ok, I wouldn't trade that legacy for anything.
Now, Nana and I had something special. We were kindred spirits, ya know. We liked nothing better than when the Miss Universe, Miss America or Miss USA pageant was on t.v. once a year. We would make a shitload of horsdouvres and park ourselves in front of the tv. She had me record the scores in a notebook so we could make our predictions for the top ten, top five etc. Nana, if she were still alive, would have LOVED American Idol and Dancing with the Stars! She was so ahead of her time. God, just writing that right now, makes me miss her like hell.
Nana could bullshit with the best of them. But she really couldn't bullshit me. For the last several years of her life, she was quite sick. Congestive heart failure was the culprit on many occasions, probably from all that bacon she was "allowed" to have. The Bedford EMS service were at our house on so many occasions, bringing Nana to the emergency room, we knew all the guys by name. Whenever Nana got sick, she would hem and haw about going to the ER, probably because she was afraid that she would never come home. She would put it off as long as she could, telling us she was ok and just needed to lay down for a bit. Sure enough, 2 hours later, when she was gurgling like crazy, she would finally consent to go to the hospital.
I remember one time when my parents were away, and Nana got sick. She was sitting there, having one of her usual episodes of breathlessness, trying to convince my brother and I that she was fine and she wasn't going to the hospital. Jerry, sat there for a while trying to reason with her. Me, I grabbed the old "Life Alert" panic button around her neck and hit the button and said "Nana, you are going!" OOOOOh was she pissed at me. I think she didn't speak to me for a few weeks after that. (nana could hold a grudge). But, I didn't care, because at least she was still around to be pissed. The alternative for me, was just too grim.
Fortunately, Nana was quite resilient and she pressed on. Through my formative high school years, when she passed judgment on every single one of my friends and when she tried to convince Jerry that if he got caught with beer, we would lose the house. (where the hell did she get this stuff?)
God, I have so many memories, that explains why this is only part I of my Nana Chronicles. Like I said, I have been thinking about her so much lately. I wonder if she would be proud of me (of course she would) but would she also judge me harshly for my overburdened, crazy life. She would have loved Mark and she would have come up with some fun nickname for him. She would think Matty was a "little devil" and Kayleigh and Michaela would be her "little bits." Oh, if only they could have known her. The good news is, Arlene gets more like her every day, so there's hope there. And I say that as the highest compliment in the world to my Mom.
Stay tuned friends.....more Nana stories are sure to follow.
Egads! Isn't that odd?