We sat at the kitchen table, the two of us. We had spent plenty of time there before. Highlights have always been the preserves - pickles, mustard pickles, chow-chow, pickled beats. My nanny always had pickles.
I’m almost ninety two years old ya know.
Oh, I knew. Less than six weeks away and she’d be ninety two. Born during the depression, she never had much.
When I grew up the doctor was almost an hour away by car - if there was one. And to call him, you had to use one of the two telephones in the community.
Healthcare was pretty brutal, almost non existent based on the stories she’d share about the nasty nurse waiting to give my Nanny’s mom pain killers as she died. No matter how much my great grandmother screamed and wailed the officious nurse didn’t dole out a bit of relief until the second it was permitted. I have so many reasons for hating the officious rule following humans, this is but one.
There wasn’t a store. You couldn’t just drive to the store for stuff. You had to make it yourself.
My Nanny had been to the store. She was flustered telling me that she wasn’t allowed to drive anymore. Regardless of that, she whipped up a great snack for us - spam mixed with pickles and extra pickle juice for good measure. We ate it on top of saltines. Served with red rose tea? I couldn’t be happier.
I’m not going to live forever
Her face grew serious. No one wants that.
I don’t want to be like them ones up at the Birches - they don’t know who they are, they can’t even speak.
Her face was growing red.
It’s better to be dead than like that. I’d rather be dead.
Shaken, red eyed and upset, she started to compose herself.
I would like to talk about something else now.
Shaken, red eyed and upset, I started to compose myself.
Your great granddaughter L? She’s majestic. She rides horses. She teaches little girls how to ride. I don’t think a more lovely and wonderful creature has ever walked the earth.
My eyes teared up more. I showed her videos of L riding Hobo. My Nanny beamed.
And your great grandson? He’s sensitive. He’s kind. He’s a really caring boy. I’m so proud of both of them. Thank you.
It’s funny that I thanked her. She didn’t have much of a hand in raising them. She has had a huge hand in raising me. The summer after my Granddad died, I moved in with her. I did the same the next summer. In our months of living together, we really connected. Over the years, through her, I was able to see and relate to my parents differently.
That’s one great thing grandparents can do. They can help children see their parents more humanly and more humanely. My Nanny is a gift and a treasure to the world. She’s afraid of being a burden.
Gifts and burdens are all relational judgements of ourselves. We rely on each other to make meaning, to define our existence. My Nanny adds so much value to my life. She’s a clear and direct connection to the past. She’s a walking talking testament to how the world and life is getting better. My Nanny shows me ever moment of every day that the world is becoming a better place.
People are living longer.
Fewer are starving.
If my wife lived where and when my Nanny did, childbirth would have killed her each time she had a baby.
If you feel pessimistic from watching the news, please remember that living at the end of a road, overlooking a lake, my Nanny is sitting in her rocker waiting with a delicious treat of tea, spam and pickles to share.
I’m devoting 2023 to finding and registering the Remarkable Fools of the world. For Remarkable Fools, what was once an embarrassing or awkward, is now a thrilling leap to a life more fulfilling. How will we find the fools? A series of pop up live talk shows where the audience are also the guests. Highly interactive and playful, you’ll laugh till you cry or cry till you laugh.
The Remarkable Foolsletter will show up every monday as a podcast. In order to get my voice beamed directly into your head, it’s going to cost you.
Thanks for this - Nanny is awesome