When Nanny said Goodbye

My grandmother lived in a big old brick house in the city. There were 4 floors, plus the basement. The kitchen was down on the first level, her bedroom and living room on the second level. The only bathroom was on the 3rd floor. Nanny  had  arthritis in her hip, so climbing all those stairs to the bathroom was a chore.

Nanny had 4 children by the time she was 40. She  then  found herself pregnant with twins, one of which was my mother. That probably didn’t help the arthrits any.

There was a pipe in the kitchen, which ran up to the second floor, kind of a prehistoric form of a walkie-talkie.

One day, I stood next to the stove in the kitchen,  talking through the pipe to my sister who was on the third floor. I turned around too quickly, and hit the pot on the stove, which was filled to the brim with spaghetti sauce. The pot fell onto the floor and the red sauce went everywhere, onto the floor, and splattering my father, mother and grandfather, who were assembled at the kitchen table.

My father started to yell, scream and swear at me. Nanny came to my defense. “Don’t yell at her, it was an accident.” My father told me to leave the room, and Nanny and my mother cleaned up the mess.

Years later, when Nanny was in the hospital with heart trouble, we knew that she didn’t have long to live. I visited her there. She told me that she didn’t realize that dying was going to hurt so much. She then brought up the spaghetti sauce incident. “I was so mad at you!” she said. “But your father was yelling at you so much, I felt sorry for you and told him to stop.”

Nanny passed away about a week later. I cried because I missed her, but I didn’t have that nagging guilt that sometimes accompanies death of a loved one. We had cleared the air between us. I knew she was in a better place.

I still cry sometimes because I miss her. But she was the storybook grandmother that we all long for, always giving a kind word or a little sweet treat.  I am glad that I had her in my life for the time I had. I am also glad that Nanny said goodbye.

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