My mother’s mother, Ruth Kay, died last night. She was 95 years old. Her grandchildren called her “Nanny” when they were young, then “Nan.” Her three great-grandchildren knew her as “G.G.” for “great-grandma.”
Nan’s husband, Sam, aka “Papa,” died of a heart attack in 1983.
Papa died just a few weeks before my 16th birthday. He must have felt it coming because he insisted that he and Nan give me the gold bangle they’d got me early. I still have it, of course.
Nan had been unwell for quite a while. I think Mother’s Day in 2012 was her last good outing.
Nan’s survivors include her two daughters: my mother, BarbaraB, and Mom’s younger sister Susan. Her grandchildren are me; my younger sister, Terri Berry; and Susan’s son, our cousin Gary.
Her great-grandchildren are Sammy, Sebastian and Sabrina. All the “S” names were inspired by Papa’s first name.
I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do enjoy contemplating what the ideal one would be. I’ve decided that it would be an A+ version of a typical day. So, in my imagination, Nan is on her way to the local beauty parlor where she will get the Best! Hairdo! Ever! while having a good gossip. Then she’s going to go home and make excellent potato latkes and very dry sponge cake for Papa. I explained this concept to my gorgeous friend Stacy and she said, “I hope your Nan figures out how to make her cake less dry!” I said no way — Papa won’t recognize her if the cake is different! Besides, it’s an A+ day, so he’ll praise it more than ever.
UPDATED TO ADD: I guess I was so shocked by this news that I forgot to share my No. 1 Nan story. Luckily, BarbaraB reminded me of it. I was Nan’s first grandchild. After I was born, Nan was brought to the nursery to take a look at me. She then turned to my mother’s doctor and declared:
“Doctor … THERE LIES A GENIUS!”
The doctor was all, “Um … I take it this is your first grandchild?” Nan was like, “Yeah, and she’s a genius.”
Nan must have told me this a thousand times during my childhood. Thanks for having faith in my smarts, Nan!
UPDATED AGAIN TO ADD: BarbaraB wrote, “She and Papa adored you. You used to sit on her back. When you got excited and kicked your feet, Papa would love it so. He said, ‘She just crawls into your heart.” Nan gave you a string to play with and it kept you busy while you marveled at it. She also sang ‘Us on a Bus.’ And gave you and Terri farmer cheese.”
She gave me farmer cheese right up until the day she had to move out of her house a couple of years ago. I still think farmer cheese is the best.