Monday, March 2, 2009

Nana

Procrastination should be my middle name! When I typed my first blog installment, my intention was to write daily, for at least 15 minutes. That was 8 days ago, and this is my first entry since then! I can hear Nana, my grandmother, saying,

"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."
My mother's mother, Nana was a throwback to Victorian times, and indeed had lived in the last years of that era. She was not a particularly comely lady, but she was lovely on the inside, and that is what we children saw.
I don't have much of a detailed history of my grandmother - only the story that I remember Mom telling me. Her name was Loretta McCarthy Fischer, and her husband, Frank, died at about the age of 50, leaving her a very poor widow. My parents eventually took her in, and she lived with us until her death when I was 13 years old.
I was born in 1946, the 4th of 5 children who would make up our family. My mother had a miscarriage 2 years before I came along, so there would have been 6 of us. It was after the miscarriage & when she was expecting me, so I've heard, that Nana came to live with us, both to help my mother and to avoid abject poverty. Our house was a beautiful, large, Victorian farmhouse that was a local landmark, distinctive for its cupola, or "widow's walk," above the attic. Nana occupied one of the 5 bedrooms upstairs & was, in my memory, as much a part of the family as any of us.
Some of my earliest memories of Nana are of quiet times with her in her room. It was, I thought, the prettiest bedroom of all, and was furnished with a matching bedroom set. It was of dark wood, with a delicate hand painted bouquet of roses applied to each piece. There was a tall dresser, a low one with a great round mirror, a dressing table & bench & a bed. That set of furniture, along with her rocking chair, clothing & a few personal items, were the only possessions that she had been able to bring from her long-lost household. The bed had a high, curved headboard & 4 tall posts, and it was a high honor just to be allowed to sit on Nana's bed!
She would allow just one of us to visit her in her room at a time. I'm sure she set up that rule in part to preserve her sanity, but also to be able to give us individual attention that was difficult to dispense in the day-to-day business of a large family. It was a special treat to spend some one-on-one time with Nana.
She would sit at her dressing table & let me use her old fashioned hair brush to curry her waist-length silver gray hair. I remember being fascinated to see it hanging down her back, since her daily style was to braid it and wind the braids around her head. In later years, she had short hair & kept it permed, but the memory of that long hair & Nana in braids still makes me smile.
I am tired & it's time to go watch this week's episode of 24, so I'll stop for now. Tomorrow, I vow I'll continue Nana's story, if for no other reason than to please her.

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