For my Nanny

You don’t always remember me. When you do remember it’s little fragments. “How’s your fella?” you’ll ask. And even though he’s not my “fella” it’s just easier to say “He’s fine”. I can’t pretend that it doesn’t hurt when you’re not sure who I am or can’t remember my name, but it’s ok, I’ll remember for the both of us.

Oh, the indignity of growing old. Those who grow old, memory still intact, and one day slip away peacefully are the lucky ones. I can’t imagine how it feels to slowly feel your memory fading and only be able to account for it as “I feel like I’m going crazy” or chalking it up to simply being “forgetful”. It’s painful to know that my Nanny lives in fear of the things her mind is causing her to experience. Strange people, strange dreams and strange surrounding.

Sadly, I don’t know that much about you, Nanny. I know you had a difficult childhood and faced other hard times growing up. I never asked you questions to really get to know you. Questions like “Who was your first love?” or “Who influenced you the most in your life?” I suppose I really only know you on the surface.

I guess I thought that I would always have time, so I put off asking you and now I’ll never know. Those memories are buried too deep for you to revisit now. I could talk about regret right now, for sure. Not taking the time to know you better is something I’ll always regret. During my childhood and early adult years, I spent so much time with you and never once did I think to ask you “What’s your favorite color?” or most importantly “Nanny, what makes you happy?”

You told me I was your favorite. I’ve always believed you. I remember being your shadow. My affinity for TV shows like “Murder She Wrote” and “In the Heat of the Night” come from you. I can’t eat grits and eggs without thinking of the countless times you cooked them for me.

I spent so many afternoons, holidays, weekends and parts of summer vacation with you. You taught me how to weed a flower bed, sew a button, can tomatoes and shell peas. Memories I’ll always hold dear.

I can’t recall if I ever thanked you for those weeks you took care of me after I broke my ankle. Thank you. Thank you for cooking for me, cleaning up after me and keeping me company. My boyfriend at the time had just broken up with me and you were just what I needed. I suspect that we needed each other and that you enjoyed having someone to take care of, but thank you nonetheless.

You’ve always been a tough cookie. Age, time and circumstances have softened you a bit though. I know that it must feel like the world is very small right now and I know there will come a day when you don’t know me at all. When that time comes I hope you’ll let me be a new friend and I’ll remember for the both of us.

I know you’ll never read this, but I love you, Nanny. Always.

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  • Reply Suzi

    I remember watching my dad with dementia, and it was the most painful thing. I listened over, and over to the same stories…wouldn’t trade it for anything. The painful thing was when he started telling me the story about how his stepfather would beat him within an inch of his life. That is the one memory that kept coming back. I hurt for him. I am so glad he went to Heaven a couple years ago…the painful memories are gone, and he is finally at peace with my mom. I truly understand about your Nanny. God Bless Her….

    May 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm
  • Reply tinabrenee

    Chelle – what a gorgeous post! I recently wrote and posted a poem entitled “Grand Finale” which was inspired by my being a grandparent and how I viewed my own grandparents. You might enjoy it. Thanks for sharing this lovely writing! It stirs a warm feeling within.

    May 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm
  • Reply Did you miss me? | Chelle in the City

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