Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Oh, Nertz!"

I was looking at this picture of my Grandma Kay this morning and found myself caught in a net of reminiscence. She died nine years ago this month. There is so much I miss about her. She smelled of Noxema and the Faberge perfume she loved so much. I remember her collection of S&H Green Stamps, the ever-present Kleenex up her sleeve, her wacky chicken dance, the raw onion and liverwurst sandwiches, her pickled beets, and her macaroni and cheese, which we still can't duplicate. I remember sitting with Patrick and Lisa at the kitchen table with our coloring books while Nana made homemade oatmeal at the stove. She taught us a new language, born in the generation that shaped her: suitcases were grips, apartments were flats, K-Mart was the dime-store, and “Oh, nertz!” was the closest she came to swearing while I was growing up.

Basic, full of substance and nothing fancy, Nana was a creature of habit. I can't begin to count the mornings I woke to hear her moving about the house; her location in the kitchen betrayed by the clinking sounds made by her spoon on the inside of her mug at breakfast, always tea with milk and toast with apricot preserves. What I would give to hear that sound now. A huge believer in fairness and equity, Nana faithfully watched both Judge Wapner and Judge Judy, always ready to dispense their words of wisdom as she thought they applied to us.

This picture is somewhat of an anomaly. Nana hated the camera. So to see her mugging for it in this way is a real surprise. It also says something about what Patrick was always able to pull out of her. Whatever it was, Erma Bombeck was able to do it too, so I thought it fitting to close this tribute to Nana with an Erma Bombeck quote that could have been written just for her: When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” You did, Nana, and we'll never forget you.

3 comments:

Lindsey said...

This is such a nice blog about Gma Kay. How come I never knew you called her Nana? And don't forget, the toast wasn't just any toast, it was RAISIN toast! <3

Anonymous said...

Hi aunt peggy i saw your blog on grandma's email about lindsey...
The secret to the mac and cheese is stringy cheese and using just a little bit of the juice from the canned tomatoes when she lived with is she made it for me like once a week.

Peggy Johnstone said...

Is that you Cam? Or is it Ash? Thanks so much for dropping in and giving up the "missing ingredient" to the famous mac-a-cheese dilemna! ;-)