I have been thinking about my Nana a lot this week. It started when I came home and my house smelled of the Passover smells that I remembered from her apartment building when I was a child. I had been cooking the food for our Sedar and went out to run an errand. When I returned home, I got out of my car in the garage and was overpowered by the smells and flood of memories. The next day I couldn’t stop thinking of her. I kept wondering what she might say to me if she were still alive. I have had a lot of questions for her lately. So many choices and challenges, and no Nana to talk to. When she died, I was not long out of college and hadn’t really embarked on the road that brought me here, nor had I faced more than one or two real challenges at that point in my life. My Nana was something. She was very intelligent. She never went to a University, but she read incessantly and loved her crosswords. She was very opinionated, yet diplomatic. She could cook wonderfully, and she was a stunner. I remember she had silver white hair. She looked like she was made for that hair color, though, obviously wasn’t born that way. She was glamorous, from my point of view. She also loved my Pop Pop until the day she died, ten years after he had passed away. She lit up when talking about him. I distinctly remember staying with them overnight, and my brother and I laughing, because my Pop Pop would chase her around the apartment grabbing her and making her giggle. After all those years, they were giddy like teenagers, when they’d flirt. Of course, as a child, you think, “oh god, here they go again! It’s so embarrassing.” I look back, and have for years, with the most amazing fondness of that memory and many more. My favorite one, was how they’d tease each other and we’d all tease them, “that it would never last”, speaking of their marriage, always knowing how incredibly in love they actually were. I think they had an incredibly healthy view of sex and were not ashamed that we knew they still “did it”
I know that she was the female influence in my life for many things. Even things I am sure my parents probably think they somehow were responsible for, I feel she may have really been the influence behind. My being Bat Mitzvahed, the first girl in our family to do so, going to college, following my passions rather than being boxed into some predetermined role, our shared love of art and the desire to see the entire world. All of these things were our private conversations. She was someone who made me contemplate things, and made it clear that women should have their own opinion and be able to back it up. She assured me that I was filled with gifts and talents far beyond anything I could see then. I believed her and know that when things have been tough in the past, it was those conversations that gave me the strength to keep trying. When I was in college and my parents split up, my mom went AWOL, so to speak, disappearing from my life for about three months. I am not sure where or why, but Nana was on the phone encouraging me to stay focused on school and my life, not my parents’.
I wrote a quick note to my Dad yesterday. I told him of my smell induced memories and that I thought she’d be proud of the Sedar I made. I told him of how I hadn’t been able to stop thinking of her, especially yesterday (March 31). He replied that she was always proud of everything about me, and that it happened to be the anniversary of her death yesterday, and maybe that was why I felt her, especially then. I had no idea it was that date. Nineteen years have passed since she died. Almost as much time has gone since she died, as I had with her in my life. I laugh sometimes to myself wondering what she’d think of my store, and I know with utter certainty, she’d grin, ear to ear loving it and me.