I went to spend some time with my grandmother today. She was sitting in her recliner looking more frail than I can remember. Her feistiness has diminished and those jet black eyes show signs of drowsiness. There she sat, the matriarch of our family, showing signs of vulnerability.
I can never remember a time in my life that Nanny was not present. My mom was a single parent and we spent most of my childhood with my grandparents. She was controlling, outspoken and to this day when she raises that arthritic crooked index finger it gets my attention immediately.
When Nanny was my age my mother moved 2500 miles away and left me to be raised solely by my grandparents. She had raised her children and suddenly she had a 16 year old. At a time when her life should have been doing things she wanted for herself she assumed the role of raising me.
It could not have been easy for her. There were times I am sure she wanted to pull her hair out but she never gave in. She was strict. She made me walk a fine line. She chased me with iron skillets when I tried to sneek in the back door after midnight. She sacrificed, she yelled, she picked my friends, she made me “toe the line.” She is the reason I am who I am today.
She has outlived all of her siblings, she has buried a husband and my mother, her oldest child.
She has lived through happy times and tragic times and persevered through all.
Last year on a visit she told me she wanted to have a serious talk. She held my hand and told me that she was tired. She detailed what a wonderful life she has had. She reminisced about raising me and the joy in watching my children grow up. She told me that when her time came to not be sad, her life has been good. She also told me to always remember, “you are the apple of my eye.”
So, today I celebrate Nanny and all the other mothers who sacrifice every day for their children to give them a better life. They are the teachers of life lessons and the shoulders to lean upon.