Well, I’ve gone and done it now. I am bawling my eyes out after having finally watched a video of my paternal grandmother sharing her memories. I say finally because Nanny died in 2006, and I received the DVD the following Christmas. You’d think that after seven years I would be able to get through the thing without losing my fashizz-ite, but no dice thanks to the stupid melancholy background music with lyrics like “Where are you, Claire?” Yes, her name was Claire.
Actually, I had forgotten I owned the thing until my daughter was looking for a lost Hello Kitty wallet (with a whole $11 in it, thank you very much!). She pulled out the case and asked “Who’s this old lady?” When I told her, she had to clarify “Is this Granny, Nanny or Mamaw Johmann?” [All three grandmas passed within a couple of years of each other, and she has vague recollections of each.] “Cool! Nanny was in a movie?” [I wish! She totally could have played a Hogwarts professor.] I explained how my aunt had hired a woman to interview her and record her life stories.
So this morning, having been rudely awoken early by the cat, I decided to visit with my favorite British grandmother. She mostly told tales of wartime England, some I’d heard before but some that were new. Like the day she walked two miles uphill in the snow (both ways) to get to a hospital for a monkey bite to her shin. Classic Nanny. I laughed through most of this portion, remembering her constant tea drinking (with lots of milk and sugar) and penchant for exaggeration.
But seeing the old black and white photographs of her and my grandfather, some with my uncle and my father as young children, brought forth so many questions. How did my grandparents meet? Was my grandfather present at my dad’s birth? Where was the house where she sheltered from German bombings in London? Now that Nanny’s gone, I may never know the answers. And that’s what upset me most.
I may not have that much time left with my own parents, and yet I rarely take advantage of the fact that they still have much to tell. Why haven’t my sisters and I recorded their stories, too? I miss Nanny, but she led a long, mostly happy life. Still, I’d give anything for one more afternoon with her. So I’ll channel my tears into something productive, and make the time to “interview” mom and dad. I’m not sure they can compete with World War II monkey attacks, but at least their grandchildren will have something that they can always remember them by. Peace out.