Sometimes, if you are lucky enough, you have someone in your posse whose strengths are your weaknesses. In my case, the woman who often “shows me the light”—and how to properly accessorize—is Nana. She’s been a steady presence in my life since day one. Her husband has known my Dad since childhood and their friendship, along with the friendships between their families, continues to expand to this day. Nana is my spare tire. I know she is there if I ever need her to get me up and moving again on my often bumpy road.
You wouldn’t think it by gazing upon this quietly elegant, statuesque woman, but she is the go-to girl in a crisis. When events happen that would throw lesser women into therapy, Nana rises to the occasion. For my wedding day, I splurged and purchased a lacy pair of stockings with full knowledge that as a kid my measurements never fit on a pediatrician’s growth chart and that the person responsible for writing the information on nylon packages that clearly state “For women 5’4” to 6’” is a big fat LIAR. I hoisted them up in preparation to go down the aisle when I discovered the crotch was six inches lower than it should be. Without blinking, Nana gently, but firmly helped me remove them and told me not to perspire about little things (AKA don’t sweat the small stuff). I could see her out of my peripheral vision stretching those suckers with the force of a ninja warrior before calmly returning them to me. Miraculously, she was able to get me four more inches. In a world before SPANX, I was eternally grateful.
She is also the only woman I know who can keep a white linen blouse crisply clean while vacationing in the Canadian wilderness. This was her attire when my daughter fell off the deck hitting—I swear—the only jagged rock capable of damage. As blood was dripping on her once white blouse, she calmly reassured Lauren that even though she might end up with a scar, she would still one day go to her prom.
Nana also has a way of keeping my “reactive” father at bay. She is the only person I know that can get away with a “Jim just chill out.” She also has a brilliant way of enticing him into conversation while I deal with everything from a plate of lasagna one of the kids flipped behind their stove to a lizard on the loose.
Behind every great man there is a woman, or at times, a woman rolling her eyes. Nana also manages to keep up with our beloved Opa, her extrovert, turbo spouse. The man should run for mayor and while he is in the forefront, she is there with the camera to capture it all.
Nana is a trooper when she visits our rustic home in Canada. While we bust out the hiking boots, Molson, and paper plates, Nana has coordinated outfits, chardonnay, and cocktail napkins. She is a pro at pretty. In a world that at times seems full of nastiness, I find great solace when I am in her realm of snowmen and bunnies.
I have learned a great deal from this ‘other maternal figure’ in my life. Learning is one thing; putting into practice is another. I remind her of the old saying that if you throw enough stuff at a wall, eventually something is bound to stick. So, I am trying to learn how to say “NO,” ask the kids to pitch in more, and carve
out some time for me in this full house.
Her advice: Buy a doorstop and use it.
She will be well-needed in the year ahead. I am now convinced that the person who makes the fictitious pantyhose charts is the same person who said lightning never strikes twice. Nana is blessed with a beautiful granddaughter who has had to struggle with physical limitations and countless health battles. Recently, another of her granddaughters was diagnosed with leukemia. The family will once again need their Nana and the strength, calm and peace that she so freely provides. I used to think that heroes came with bulging muscles and capes. Thanks to Nana, I know they put up twinkle lights, use the good china and love unconditionally.