Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nanny

Nanny & Sprout, Christmas 2010
Flipping through my Google calendar a few days ago, I noticed my reminder of my grandmother's birthday. I got a twinge of sadness because she died just over a year ago now, days before her 91st birthday. She had a long, happy life & was very healthy until near the end of it. I really miss her sometimes though, when I get reminded of her. I wish Sprout could have gotten to know her, but I'm glad that she saw him a number of times before she died.

Something that comes to mind when I think of Nanny is generosity. I'm reminded of her often because of the many things she's given me. Some are tangible, like our stroller. Nanny & Grampy paid for strollers for all their great-grandchildren; this was the reason we were able to choose the great quality one that we wanted, not just the one we could afford. Along with the cheque she wrote a little note about how she didn't yet have a car when my mom & her twin were babies & how important it was to have a good quality stroller.

Another important but less tangible gift was the connection with another generation of my family & the perspective that elders bring. I'm so happy to have had the opportunity to get to know her better as a teenager. Until I was thirteen my family lived far away from my mom's parents, seeing them only a few times a year. When we moved to the same neighbourhood I got to visit Nanny & Grampy several times a week. Our chats over tea & her baked goodies helped me get a little perspective on my parents as an angsty teen.

In some ways, Nanny was fairly traditional. She didn't work outside the home once she had children. She liked to bake treats for all her grandchildren & many of my memories of her involve seasonally-shaped sugar cookies, melt-in-your-mouth shortbreads & other goodies she'd make. She gave me a love of homemade muffins, particularly blueberry ones, & I think of her each time I make some with her electric mixer.

Nanny was such a calm & supportive presence in my life & had a very non-judgemental attitude toward her brood of grandchildren. She didn't feel it was her place to criticize us. For example, despite disagreeing with it, she never said a word against me moving in with a boyfriend when I was 21. Quietly watching several of her other grandchildren do the same thing, she came to change her opinion on living together before marriage. Despite growing up in a time where homophobia was more prevalent & acceptable, it was not an issue when her grandson came out as gay. She never showed the racism of many in her generation when several of her grandchildren married people of Chinese, Indian & Mexican extraction either.

Thank you, Nanny, for all you gave me. I miss you.


  1. I miss both of them too. I was just thinking about Nanny's birthday this morning. So many things remind me of her, even my daughters. She sent me a letter when I was pregnant with them, and told me that twins were a lot of work, but they would be the "light of my life" just like her twins were for her. I kept it (of course), for the girls to read when they get older.

  2. What a beautiful piece, Lisa. We are very lucky to have had her in our lives. She was one of the nicest people in the world.


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