14 July 2010

Birthday girl

Macauley, my mom and I drove to Muskogee this past Saturday, 10 July, to celebrate my Nanny's 85th birthday with our family. We met for lunch at Hamlin's (of course) and then went to the assisted living facility where Nanny stays now for cake and gifts. She was quiet but happy and several times remarked on the love she felt having us all there.

She raised four girls, who in turn gave her 11 grandchildren and now 6 great-grandchildren, including my Macauley. I have so many memories of her house, my Papaw, all the fun and generosity...I miss those days of Nanny piling as many of my cousins as we could fit into her Crown Victoria and driving us to lunch at Big Cheese Pizza (with our tower of yellow refillable drink cups in hand) then shopping or swimming lessons or sightseeing. We'd number off as we raced to be the first to buckle our seatbelts and she'd kiss/smush the person closest to her in the car at each wide turn and say, "My corner!" Their house was small, but I remember bedrooms full of kids, the couch bed pulled out, pallets on the floors, everyone waking up for breakfast and Papaw being up hours before everyone else. Nanny would make me hard boiled eggs, all chopped up with salt and pepper in a bowl. She stocked the fridge with tiny cans of orange juice with Donald Duck on them. In public, she'd talk to everyone we saw, showing off her grandkids and giving complete strangers a run-down of who we were and whatever we were up to that day. Nanny and I wrote letters to each other for years when I was growing up, and I'll always recognize her handwriting. She always told me, "You light up my life," like the song. She lit up my young life, too, and even though it was a little hard to see her aged and still and different from the woman I used to know in some ways, I'm glad we got to visit her on her special day.

Her sister Lorene's birthday was 12 July, so we showed her some birthday love, too. I have lots of memories of Aunt Lorene and Uncle Jim when I was younger as well. Their house was only two doors down from Nanny and Papaw's on South 24th Place, so us kids would run back and forth and in and out (hoping the Chow-Chow dogs at one of the houses in between wouldn't nip at our heels as we passed on the bikes or on foot). She liked to paint and do crafts for a while, and I will never forget her showing my friend Kandi how she should shade the teddy bear she'd painted during a visit to "Aunt Lorraine" (Kandi never could get her name right!). We liked it better without the shading, but Aunt Lorene was taking painting classes at the time and I'm sure she knew best. She'd always offer to make you a tall glass of instant iced tea (lemon flavored) if you sat down at the bar in her kitchen, next to the phone and little notepad on a wooden spool with a tiny pencil. The Scrabble set I have now belonged to her and inside is a score sheet in my sister's handwriting for a heated game between Lorene, Lindsay and my cousin Nathan. Lorene ended up the winner.

All my mom's sisters were there, including Aunt Phyllis and her kids and their kids. I so admire and appreciate all that my Aunt Debbie does to keep Nanny safe and happy in Muskogee. She's the only one that lives there in town, and I know she goes through a lot with Nanny. Ryan and Melissa were in from Dallas with sweet baby Gray. Aunt Karen was in from Florida for the week and it was great to see her. We even got to go to a flea market together after lunch...wish we could do that all the time.

Macauley helped Nanny blow the candles out on her cake...adorable baby Gray had her first ever taste of sugar courtesy of her Mimi. She liked it.

The family gave Nanny a new recliner that can help her up and Macauley gave her a quick tutorial on how to work the controls. I gave her some of her favorite word search books, with purple pens and purple notepads in a tote with a purple flower on it. That's always been her favorite color, and I always think of that.

Nanny kept asking where we were going next and what else we were going to do, so it was really hard to leave her there in her little apartment, but I'm glad we got to spoil her for a bit and surround her with family. I hope she knows or still remembers what a big part of my life she has been, and I'm glad my little boy knows who she is.


Debra@Common Ground said...

What amazing times we have with our grandparents and how those shape our future. Happy Birthday to your sweet Grandmother! All the women of your family are so beautiful. good genes, Hayley!!

MickeyMFan said...

Thank you for sharing your story of your beautiful grandmother. Since mine is now gone, I cherish those memories I have of her from my childhood. And I agree with Debra--everyone in your family is just gorgeous!!


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