This is my Nan. She was my father’s mother, and I have to say, this is not how I remember her. There really aren’t any pictures that capture how I remember her, but I love this one, so it’s the one I’m using. It sort of reminds me of a hip working mom. She’s looking like she’s got places to go and people to see.
This was the grandmother who taught me about comfort food. The foods I turn to most often come from her kitchen. My love for purple cabbage, semi-homemade poundcake, and her Christmas shortbread cookies all come from my Nan. I feel like I had to earn all of those recipes. She didn’t just hand them over; she always held a little something back. I have three different versions of the shortbread, and I had to go back to her a few times to get the poundcake right. When I first got married, hers were the meals that made me think of domesticity. There was never Kraft Dinner or chicken nuggets. It was all home-made.
I grew up surrounded by very strong women, and my Nan was no exception. Some people like to call it a certain Frank stubborness, but I prefer to think of it as determination. This was a woman who never really had a lot, but she was the epitome of making the most of what she had. I remember the buckets of blueberries and rhubarb that I saw every year. She darned socks and she helped me with quilting projects. there was even one disastrous attempt at teaching me how to knit!
One of the rites of passage in our home was receiving a key to Nan’s house when we started junior high school. The school was within walking distance to her house, and we would go every day for lunch all through junior high and high school. This is where I was assured a hot lunch and extra treats. There was always a sweet something stored away in a Quality Street tin in the dining room closet.
As kind of a side note, when I was growing up I always felt closest to my brother, Michael. I think part of that had to do with the time we spent together eating lunches at Nan’s. Sometimes it would just be a joint eye-roll at something crazy she said, but mostly it was time spent together; also, he would drive me back to school which made me look infinitely cooler than I actually was!
I hold no thoughts of being anywhere in the vicinity of Nan’s favorite grandchild. I caused my sister way too much torment to ever be a favorite! I’ll let Jason and Christina fight over that one. I have no doubt though, that she would have defended me to the ends of the earth. Family loyalty was important to her, and it has become very important to me.
There are some definite things that I know I inherited from my Nan: My hair, which I don’t exactly love, but whatever; I also have a need to have baked goods in my home at all times whether there is someone there to eat them or not! My husband probably wishes I had inherited her love of cleaning and ironing, but I am not quite that evolved!
I had been preparing for my Nan’s death for quite some time, and I have to say that I felt a little guilty at my lack of emotion at the viewing and the funeral. There were members of the family that were very distraught, and I really felt more gratitude than anything else. She had been without a lot of the joys of her life for a long time, and I think that where she is now is a far better place than where she was. She was blessed to have been surrounded by her family when she died, and I know that she was welcomed by her family on the other side.