Her old house-At her old house there was an oil lamp hanging right by the door that I was constantly getting in trouble for putting my hands in the oil dripping down the wires, also an old clock that never worked properly (because it wasn't "reset") but she would always set it up to work while we were there so we could see the bird come out. The kitchen was HUGE and had old saloon doors leading into it. I would often open those doors and come through them as if I was a star putting on a show. The huge kitchen had a breakfast nook where the "kids table" was during big dinners. The best part about that was that the desserts were often left in the kitchen until dinner was over and I could sneak some cookies early. The carport was the site of one of my birthday parties (after going to a waterpark with a few select friends). The piano was right outside the kitchen and Nan Nan (and my patient parents) would listen to my "concerts" and cheer as if they were the best things they had ever heard. Then the formal dining room which doubled as an entry way and was the site of my first experiences with amazing cooking! My mom was a good cook but I remember Nan Nan's feasts being the most food I ever saw at once. Her living room always had a container of mints or candy to sneak and a bunch of breakable stuff to stay away from. She had a mean dog named Brandy that might be the reason I don't like dogs to this day! LOL My dad's old bedroom had a cool closet which connected with the closet in the other room making a great secret passage way from one side of the house to the other. The bathroom door ALWAYS stuck and you never wanted to lock it because you might get stuck in there! Her master bedroom was HUGE and always full of beautiful clothes and coats.
Nan Nan Week-a couple summers between when I was 9-14 or so I was allowed to spend a few days (maybe even a whole week) with Nan Nan by myself. With three sisters this alone time was great! Nan Nan always called me her princess and told me stories about "Princess Joanna" when I was a little girl. As I got older when I would spend this week with her she would iron my clothes every day. I thought this was very strange . . . she even ironed my underwear!! When I asked her why she said that "when you look pretty underneath, you feel pretty on the outside too" Looking good was important to her and I don't know if I ever saw her without her makeup and hair done in those early years when I was young. She took me along with her daily routine during those weeks which I both loved and hated. Sitting through an old lady water aerobics class and the locker room afterward was downright painful. However, I really loved showing houses with her (she was a realtor). Seeing the houses and hearing her "sell" the property no matter how much I knew she hated the decor she was "selling" it was fascinating. She always took me to my favorite waterpark during that week and it was the highlight of my trip. She took me to the state capitol for a "private" tour several years. She always put mayonnaise on my sandwich even though I hated mayonnaise--she did not understand how her granddaughter could not like mayonnaise. She also insisted on coming into the dressing room with me when she had me try on clothes (which I HATED). She did have a way of getting discounts on clothes and bought me lots of things I wanted though so I tolerated the invasion of my modesty.
Christmas-Christmas was done so beautifully. All the decorations matched, they were all done perfectly each year. The kitchen was full of cakes, cookies, pies . . . I mean full of them the entire Christmas season. She had stuff in the oven or on the counter all the time for someone. She had a raised cake stand that ALWAYS had a cake or pie in it. In fact, I often wondered if it was EVER empty. You could always count on her having some fresh baked good in that cake stand when you visited. She gave out huge tins of Christmas cookies every year and we would eat them all season long. She bought gifts for everyone she knew I think and the tree was always full of gifts. She didn't do things organized necessarily and she shopped all year long for Christmas so sometimes you would get a TON of gifts and sometimes you would get a few gifts and someone else would get a ton. It was always a huge surprise who was the "favorite" that year. Regardless of who got what we were all VERY spoiled by her generous gift giving. Christmas dinner (even if done on a different day than Christmas) was a HUGE event (as every meal at her house was) and the food was always amazing. We always had punch with meals . . . you could sneak out into the garage refrigerator and get a pop sometimes but every meal had a punch bowl full of punch.
Canning-My grandmother had a HUGE garden between her old house and my great grandmothers house. They gardened there for years and years even after she sold the house. She canned all the things she grew and kept my parents pantry stocked with tomatoes, green beans and other things my entire childhood. In fact, I don't remember us every buying beans from the store. There would be 50 cans or more in the garage at any given time and we just had to go out and get one for dinner when we needed one. When she got older and I did have store canned beans for the first time I remember that I didn't like them. I had grown up with only Nan Nan beans my entire life. She was always a little disappointed I think that I never wanted to learn this skill of canning.
Ceramics-When I was really young Nan Nan was really into ceramics. I remember her bringing Easter Ceramics to my girl scout troop (maybe my entire school class too, seems like I remember doing it twice with her) and teaching us all how to paint them. I still have the little rabbit thing I painted that day. That wasn't the only one I ever painted with her but I remember being so proud of that one because MY grandma had come to the troop to do it.
Dating/Marriage-When Nan Nan first met Tim (freshmen year of college) she told me I should take a second look at that nice young man. I told her he was not really "marriage" material. She asked me why and when I didn't have a good answer she said she just thought he deserved a second look. I'd be lying if I said her opinion made THAT huge a difference but it was interesting she did say that. (she enjoyed reminding us both of that many times years after we got married that SHE got us together . . . she loved Tim!) When we did get married she did give me this piece of advice. Always use your good dishes for your family. Don't save the china for company only. Your husband is your most prized possession and needs to be treated as if he is that special . . . use the good stuff for him too . . . even if it's just the two of you at the table.
These last five years of beating cancer but the weakness over her body that it left her, the frustration of not being able to do things for herself, her anger at not being able to live alone, her mind eventually giving in to the Alzheimer's has honestly left me with many many sad memories . . . I have so enjoyed looking through old pictures and going through her house and the renewed old memories it has given me. Remembering all those fun times that will hopefully be the lasting memories in my mind. I love you Nan Nan! So happy that you are reunited with Ethon and Clinton and your Savior! I will see you again, when my time comes--until then I guess I'd better go set the table for dinner . . . with my good dishes!