1910 – 2010
I am still coming to grips with losing my grandmother. In celebration of her life, I offer three stories.
1) The scene: a grand house on Second Avenue in Spring Lake New Jersey, around 10 am. We are getting ready to go to 11 o'clock mass at Saint Catherine's. My sister, Teresa and I are hungry. The rule is, no food before Sunday Mass. The kitchen is not quiet though. The pot of red sauce has been simmering since before I got up. "There he is! Good morning, little Ted," she says, "meatball?" She spoons out a couple meatballs, some sauce, along with a generous piece of white italian bread." I am a happy, no longer hungry kid.
2) The scene: a new house, now on South Boulevard, still in Spring Lake. I had returned home from my Peace Corps service and was living with Nanny while I commuted to a job in New York City. Nanny, now in her eighties, wakes up before me every morning to give me a ride to the station. It's a Friday evening, and I'm on the way out to meet some friends. She's sitting in her chair, working a crossword. I tell her I'll be home later. "Be good," she says, and with a wink, "and if you can't be good, be careful." I give her a kiss on the cheek, and head out.
3) The scene: The Geraldine L. Thompson nursing home, Allenwood, NJ. May 2010. I did not know this would be my last visit. Nanny is in the so called, "day room," seated at a table, picking over her lunch. "The food's not so good here," she said. And then she gave me the scoop on everyone in the room. "See him? He works here. 55. Not married. Friendly, but talks too much. That woman over there? I don't know why, but she hates me. You should see how she looks at me. This poor woman," she gestures at the woman seated next to me, "her daughter comes in and leaves in three minutes. That's not right." The doctor comes by and checks her blood's oxygen level. "He's ok," she says to me as though he's not there.
"How you feeling Annie?" he asks.
"Allright, alright but I'd rather be home," she said.
And I am hoping that she is–reunited with her husband, and all the friends and family she survived. Nanny, rest in peace. We love you. We miss you. We will never forget you.