i love you a bushel and a peck: a tribute to nana y.

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.

Nana, Gramps and me at their 50th wedding anniversary

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.

Nana on her wedding day

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.

Unknown people on the beach. Photo found in Nana's chest drawer.

Nana and me on the beach, circa 2001

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's shell necklace

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.

Nana as a new mother, holding my father as a baby.

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.

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Categories: Family, Reflection

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11 replies »

  1. Shannon this is lovely. Thank you for sharing your nanna with us 🙂
    She seems like an amazing lady, and judging from the brief glimpse into her life, a lot like you!

  2. Yes… I miss Nana a lot too. She was a very influential person in my life. I use to spend summers with her and Granddad, which I always looked forward to.

    When we were young, Chelle would make me so mad by saying that she was HER Nana. I would cry and scream and Nana would always say “I’m both your Nana”.

    I remember sitting on her kitchen counter at the age of 4 or 5 drinking coffee (I think it was more cream than coffee) from the purple coffee mug that Chelle and I would fight over.

    Nana taught me not to lie, cheat or steal and always stand up for what you think is right. Nana was always courteous, polite and understanding, but she not a push over. My first quarter at college, I ran out of money after a month. I called Nana and said I needed some help because, “I mismanaged my money”. Nana was very understanding and sent me some cash. The next month I ran out again and when I asked for more, Nana said, “we can’t have this, you need to get a job.” I’ve been working ever since.

    Yes, I miss Nana too. This has brought back a lot of memories. Thanks Shannon for reminding.

    • Mark, thank you so much for sharing your memories! You, Chelle, Alice and Ryan had the gift of seeing her as a younger grandmother. I always loved hearing your stories about her and Gramps. I think that blue counter may be part of all of us– Lauren and I used her counter blender to make crazy concoctions like ice cream and mustard milkshakes! What lovely times.

  3. I remember how she made each grandchild feel like they were her favorite. She doted on each one of us!! She loved to read, cook, and garden. My favorite memories are of sitting on her turquois counter and watching her cook!! No matter if she had just sat down to dinner, if someone at the table needed something she would jump up and serve them. Always the perfect hostess!! I just wish my kids got the chance to meet her. I know they would love her as much as I did!!

  4. Thanks for sharing Shannon. Your blog is such a beautiful tribute to Mother. She is very proud of her six grandchildren. I think about Nana often especially today. She was such a loving person. When I became a mother I cried because I did not think I could be the mother she was to me. Then I realized how blessed I was to have such a good role model. She led by example not by advice. She always knew what to say or do to make everyone feel better. She was full of wisdom and I always held her opinions in high esteeme. You are a lot like her! You have her thoughtness, her sensitivity and her intelligence! The pictures bring back lots of memories of good times.

    • Thank you so much for your comments Aunt Dale. You have always reminded me of Nana, especially when I see what a loving grandmother you are. I feel blessed to have such kindness in our family.

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