I was thinking about my grandmothers today. Both Gramma (Signa) and Nana (Maxine) were loved so much that we named our first child after them (Signa Maxine). In honor of Sympathy Saturday, I decided to share this writing I did about Nana in 2001. Nana was my mom’s mom, Ethyl Maxine Shelton born to good ol’ Cora Shelton.
I miss my Nana. She made me laugh like no one else did. She wasn't very fun when I was a kid, but when I got older, she became a good Nana. I don't think she was particularly fond of children... But she liked me when I grew up a bit. I remember the first time I realized that Nana was cool and fun. It was after Grampa Hal, my step-grandfather, had passed away and Nana used to come stay with us for a month or so at a time. Nana slept in my room with me. I had to GET my room clean before she came, but she would KEEP it clean the whole time she was there. I'd leave my dirty clothes on the floor and Nana would actually have it laundered and hung up for me when I came home.
I didn't think this part was all that cool, but what was cool was that Nana would play cards with me and talk to me like I was an adult. She came for Christmas when I was in high school. The week before Christmas, I had a date with this guy that I actually didn't know was a date (so I still say that I've never been on a date). I thought we were going to check out Christmas Tree Lane as friends, but this guy didn't think that and I didn't realize it until at the end of the evening he asked me for a "second date" to go out on New Year's. I was flabbergasted by the ludicrousness of having gone on a date without knowing it with a guy that I thought of as just a friend.
So I said I had to stay home with my grandma on New Year's.
And because lying made my stomach hurt, I DID stay home with Nana on New Year's. Todd spent the night at a friend's house and my parents went out for the evening. But Nana and I stayed home and sat at the kitchen table playing cards and talking.
Nana told me about how she was a model before she married my grandfather. She was a fancy clothing store model in San Francisco. They didn't have mannequins; they had Nana and others like her walking around wearing the clothes. Then she met my grandfather and gave it all up for a life of luxury. (snicker)
Nana told me about a time when she took the bus to see my grandfather. She said that back then douching was a big deal and all the "ladies" had douche bags. For reals. Well, Nana got on the bus and walked to the back with her carry-on and as she got towards the back, the bus driver braked and the suitcase flew open and Nana's douche bag came out and rolled all the way to the front. She was mortified but not as mortified as I was when I had to have Nana explain to me what a douche was.
That story stayed with me for many reasons, not the least of which the fact that Nana brought a douche bag with her to see my grandfather.
Nana loved Marc. And she teased him mercilessly. You know that dark spot on jeans right at the crotch? Where the material meets and therefore never fades, despite numerous washings? Well, when Nana was sick, near the end, we went to visit her in the hospital. She was so sick and so tired and yet she looked at Marc and said, "Did you wet your pants, Marc?" And she wouldn't let go of teasing him about it.
Nana ate the weirdest foods. She'd mix all the leftovers together and eat it. Beans, jello, corn and gravy. Whatever. She had the hugest appetite of anyone I ever knew and was a teeny tiny woman. She must have eaten at least 6 meals a day.
And Nana would watch her "programs" and rant about them every day. Days of Our Lives was one of her favorites, I remember.
One time, also in high school, my friend and I took a weekend trip to see her. It was about a 2-hour drive to her house, which was a long car trip for two teens who just got their licenses. She and I stocked up on snacks (barbecue potato chips and a six-pack of Diet Coke) and hit the road at about 6am. Nana had our room (the livingroom with a fold out couch) ready and told us that she wanted us to pretend it was a hotel. She'd be our maid and our front desk. She had brochures for us of things to see and do around town, maps, and tons and tons of snacks. It was like she knew we had fun just pretending to be on a real vacation and gave us that and even more. At 16, getting room service, even if it was by your nana, was a great treat.
Anyway, Nana died the day after Mother's Day last year. It was past her time to go, but I sure wish she were still around so I could get her to tell me the douche bag story just one more time.