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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sentimental Saturday

Me and Mom 1999

Yesterday was another productive, although tiring afternoon/evening in the White Tornado world. I got another chunk sorted and cleared in the future woman cave that turned up some wonderful things. I went through a grandma box and a Mums box.

Before I go further, I want to clear up a source of confusion. I realize that what’s simple for me can be very messy to try to read and I’m sorry. But don’t we all do that from time to time? Things that have just “always been” don’t seem to need clarification. My brain says if I made a distinction once, it’s already overkill. That would be true if I was writing in my private journal and didn’t expect anyone to ever read it. Even my private journals I do want read after I’m gone. They are all my secrets that might make insightful, helpful or entertaining reading 60 years or so from now by my nieces, grand nieces and nephews, and greats and so on.

Grandma, Mums and Mom 1945

Anyway, the distinction issue. The other day when I mentioned women in my blog who were here before me, I spoke of “Mom.” “Grandma,” “Mums” and “Grammy.” Those are four different women. It gets more confusing because if I talk about Tori and Rina the names are different for each one. SO the round up goes like this:

I am Nani, nicknamed that by my mother and in 1994 it was intended that I’d be “Aunt Nani” to my nieces. Well, they never called me Aunt Nani, I am Nana, pronounced /NAH-nah/. They are 17 now and I’m still Nana, so I don’t think that’s changing.

When I speak of “Mom” on my blog, I speak of my mother, Janet. Truth there is I didn’t call her “Mom,” I called her “Fluff” pronounced /Floof/. That was a private nickname and to my friends and other family members I still referred to her as Mom. To the Niecii, she was “Grams”

My first communion with Noni and Grandma 1973

Now is where it starts to get a little more complicated. Being the oldest is so cool because you get to name everyone. I had very distinct differences in the names so I could keep them sorted out when I was very young. My grandmother, Wonda, was “Grandma.” She got to keep the American English Grandma because my paternal grandmother, Rosa, was Noni. Oldest grandkid, I got to choose to call my nonna, Noni and all of my cousins followed suit. The girls never got to meet Noni, so they know her as “Noni” or “Dad and Nana’s Noni” Grandma to them was “Grammy.”

Grandma and Tori 2005

Grandma with Rina 2007

We’ll skip a generation for a moment. This is a huge source of confusion. My nieces and I share a wonderful treasure in that we all knew our great and great-great grandmothers long enough to remember them! They called their great-grandmother, Wonda, “Grammy.” I called my great-great-grandmother, also Wonda, also “Grammy,” and their great-great grandmother, Opal, “Great-Grammy.”

I actually have just one vivid memory of Grammy whom I didn’t see very often, but I did a few times. She passed when I was 9. I have lots of pictures and things she wrote on, touched and some of her quilts, but the memory I hold is just a simple saying hello when I was about 5 or 6. It’s just at a family gathering, I made a point of finding her to say hello. I just remember saying “Hello Grammy!” and she said “Hello Honey,” with a smile. We hugged and kissed and that’s the memory. Small, but special because I don’t remember anything else from that family gathering except that it was summer and outdoors at a relative’s home in the country.

Mums and Grandma 2000

Back to the original timeline. My great-grandmother, Opal, was “Mums.” She’d originally been “Mom-mom.” which is what my mother called her, but I eventually shortened it to Mums. I was very close to my great-grandmother. I remember spending the day with her from time to time when I was little. We lived about an hour apart then, so it was a big, just us, holiday for me. When we were building our house that was just a mile away from her we lived with her for a year and we shared a room. Mums snored, shake the rafters loud. I think that’s why I don’t even notice when David snores; it’s actually a comforting sound to me. Once I started driving, I never missed a Tuesday coffee at her house. I was in my 20s, she in her 80s, the first time I heard her say, “Sometimes I feel a little old.” She also told me, “But a spoon of ice cream makes that go away!”

Some of the real treasures I found in the box from Mums’ things that I went through yesterday include a diary that starts on January 1, 1944, which is the year my grandparents eloped. There are lots of very old photos. Three identical photos of a baby in an old brown cardboard fold over frame. There’s nothing written on any of those, but I have a hunch it might be Donald, the older brother Grandma never met because he died from pneumonia before she was born. I think that’s part of why Mums and I became so close. I was hospitalized with pneumonia when I was 2. Mom had told me that Mums was terrified when I got sick and the happiest of the whole family when I came home.

Here is one of the wonderful treasures:

Mums 5 years old

This says “Opal, taken 1912” on the back. She turned 6 in December of that year. What really struck me was that if I’d dressed Rina up and taken her picture in black and white when she was 5, it’d look like they were sisters. Mums is definitely where the eyes come from, those sultry eyes that Grandma had, I have and Rina has. But Grandma and Rina work them, without trying. I’ve got the same eyes, but I’ve never been sexy. All the older pictures of Mums, they’re just pretty eyes, not sexy. Grandma and Rina got the tools and the natural talent. Mums and I appear to have gotten gypped in the sex appeal department. Oh well. Who needs sexy? There’s still ice cream!

On the top of the box were some more current photos. I recognized those as the ones Mums kept on her buffet. She kept every post card I sent her when I travelled, and if I went to the zoo, I sent a post card, and some photos. She used to show off the picture of the production truck I drove for sports and the George Bush presidential rally photo from 1992 to friends and family when they visited. She kept this picture on the buffet too:

Me and Mums 1985

That’s us on New Year’s Day 1985. I kept the same photo framed in my living room. Her buffet is now my buffet and if you visited that same table we used to sit at for our Tuesday coffee, you’d see Tori and Rina’s senior pictures displayed. The buffest still boasts about the women of the current generation.

So that’s the nomenclature of the women in my family you hear me speak of from time to time, especially if I’m talking about my vintage treasures or the origination of some of my quirks.


Glo Haynes said...

What a wonderful post! It made me long for a treasure box of my own from my grands. I never knew either of my great-grands and what a loss for me. I do have a photo of my great-grandmother (My Dad's grandmother on his mom's side), in the photo she is holding my grandmother's sister. Her sister is about 6 and looks identical to my Grand-daughter. I can't get over how much they favor. Makes my heart fill with love every time I look at that photo. Thanks for the great post nani!

Edna B said...

What a lucky lady you are! Grandmas, great grandmas, etc. Growing up I only had one grandpa and he passed on when I was very young. Maybe that's why I'm so pleased to have lots of great grandbabies myself.

It's still a bit congfusing. You have: great great grandma called Grammy; a great grandma called Mums; a grandma called Grandma; and your Mom. This is totally fabulous!!! And who ever told you that you are not sexy? That photo of you is very very pretty!! And quite sexy, I might add!

You have a fabulous day. Hugs, Edna B.