And her obsession with playing Bingo several nights a week – although I have to wonder what she’d think of current day sites like PartyBingo where you don’t even have to leave your house to play.
It’s hard to believe that my grandmother, Nannie as we called her, was only 34 when I was born. It’s been years since I was 34, and I can’t imagine being anyone’s grandma at this point in my life.
Because Nannie was younger than the average grandma, I feel like we had a much closer relationship than many girls and grandmas are lucky enough to have.
Which is why when she died of colon cancer on Easter Sunday, April 23, 2000, it was more like losing a parent than a grandparent, and it’s why even now, almost thirteen years later, I still miss her everyday.
I’ve noticed the older I get, the harder it is for me to remember things. So many little details of my childhood have already been lost, and a couple of amazing recipes handed down by my grandmother have already dissipated into thin air because I didn’t write them down, believing I’d always remember.
So I created a Pinterest board, dedicated to all the things that remind me of Nannie. I enlisted the help of my sister Cindy, and I was amazed at the number of things she remembered that I’d already forgotten. But when we put our two heads together, we came up with a board that represents Nannie “to a T”.
Things like her love of hummingbirds, the tiniest and sweetest of birds.
Nannie loved flowers, and her yard was filled with them. She took pride in her flowers, and spent a lot of time taking care of them.
Her yard was often filled with other things, too: cats. She loved cats, so she didn’t mind when, almost every spring, a mama cat chose Nannie’s tool shed as the place to birth a litter of kittens. Nannie always named each and every one of the kittens, although she never kept any of them. She always tried to find homes for them all.
But the thing she loved most in the world, besides her children and grandchildren, was quilting. She spent so much time, sitting at the huge quilt frame that occupied most of the space in her living room, hand stitching until her fingers bled. She made beautiful heirloom-quality quilts for everyone in her entire family, and as I write this, I’m looking at mine, hanging from a quilt hanger on the wall of my home office.
Today is Nannie’s birthday. She was born 83 years ago today in a tiny little town in eastern Kentucky, and it still pains me to remember that she spent her last birthday in a hospital bed in Muncie, Indiana. But soon after that, she got to go home, where she spent her final days and weeks in the care of her loving husband, my step-grandfather Bobby, and where she took her last breath early on that Easter Sunday morning with my uncle Jimbo at her side.
If I live to be the age Nannie was when she died, I’ll have lived half my life without her, and that’s a sad, bittersweet realization. But I’m so very grateful for the memories, and for the time I had with her. Most girls my age have probably lost their grandmas by now, but I envy those of you who still have yours with you.
In my Nannie’s honor, won’t you share a grandma memory here today?