Today marks the 9th anniversary of my grandmother’s passing.
Nana Y. was one of the most cherished people in my life. I think about her often, but August is the month I find myself remembering her the most.
Since I was a child, I have striven to be like her. She was the most compassionate, loving, and generous person I have known. The epitome of a Southern Lady, she never said a “cross” word about anyone, even against the people who mistreated her.
When I was a teenager, someone grabbed the purse off her arm as she was leaving the grocery store. She responded with the statement that the person must have needed the money more than she did.
She was a problem-solver and an expert at compromise. When my sister and I encountered sibling rivalry (me cheating in Chinese Checkers, Lauren stealing my favorite teddy bear, WaWa), Nana could mediate in a way that made us both feel heard. She taught me what it means to be fair.
She also let us eat ice cream every day.
There’s a lot I didn’t have the chance to learn about my grandmother, but I do know that she loved to travel. By the time I was old enough to remember recent events, she was no longer able to take trips, but she talked about her wanderlust often.
I found several unlabeled pictures from a discarded family photo collection that give a glimpse into her travels.
Of all the places she traveled, I remember she told me the beach was her favorite.
When she passed, I collected books about places she had gone, as well as a box of costume jewelry that included a shell necklace.
I wear the necklace when I want to channel her strength and sense of fun.
Nana was also thrifty. She rarely went out to eat, and didn’t hire someone to help her clean until she was physically unable to complete house chores. She worked full-time until retirement, and made sure to save enough money to put each of her 6 grandchildren through college.
I would not be in the financial place I am without her ideological and monetary support.
When I was little, Nana always told me she loved me a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. I looked up the reference for the first time, and it comes from a peppy song debuted in the 1950 Broadway musical, Guys and Dolls.
My grandmother shares her first name with Doris Day, who recorded a version of the song that was released very near Nana’s birthday in 1950.
What a glimpse into an era!
I still miss Nana dearly, but I know she is with me when I reach deep to find compassion toward others, and when this itch to see the world springs up. Believing in her continued love and support makes my savings efforts that much more meaningful.
Whose memory do you cherish? I’d love to celebrate them with you.