Tuesday, April 10, 2007

We Called Her Nana

She was something. Nana had presence. If she was in the room, it was impossible to miss her. A big lady with charisma to spare. I don't think I realized until my adulthood just how pretty she was. At my wedding in 1995, a friend commented that my grandmother must have been a stunner in her day. Even with the extra weight and age, she radiated confidence. A huge smile, cafe' au lait skin, dark hair, sparkling eyes. Wore pastels better than anyone that comes to mind.

And that laugh. Just a hair shy of raucous, sometimes a little forced, but never grating. You heard it when she was at her most mischievous, telling you a tall tale from her past that may or may not have had any resemblance to actual events. In a spirit of affection, my mother recently remarked that Nana rarely let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Much of her life is cloaked in mystery. I think Nana liked it that way. She thrived on drama. Some of her choices were questionable. Not everyone has a warm fuzzy where Nana is concerned. She did the best she could, I think. How Nana raised seven children (one died as a toddler), largely without the help of her first two husbands, is hard to fathom. I'm not giving her a pass. I'm just allowing the passage of time to sort of soften the edges of her mistakes. History in soft focus.

It seems to me that Nana was a better grandparent than parent. I guess that's the case with a lot of people. As a child, I was always very excited to visit her. There was always a whirlwind of kids and fun at her house. And she showered me with affection.

My Uncle Bobby Rabie, Nana, and me circa 1968

I was not close to Nana in the later years of her life. I regret that now. If I had it to do over again, I would. So, I will pay my overdue respect to her in the best and most meaningful way I can. My hope is to document at least one version of her story in the most loving way possible. There has always been lots of talk over the years about her faults. Still, no one could say that she did not love her family. Maybe not the way they needed it. But maybe the only way she knew how.

Nana and the new Mrs. Eckroth (me) September 3, 1995

In the end, there was absolutely no one like her. And as my sister's wedding approaches, I find myself thinking that she will surely be missed. She was not one to skip a party.

Nana, dear Grandmother... May God keep you safe and loved. You are in my heart, mind, and prayers tonight.


Anonymous said...

Very Nice. loving

Leigh Eckroth said...

Thanks. Do I know you?

Anonymous said...

I saw this beautiful tribute in your "worth revisiting" column. I was drawn to it because I myself had a beautiful grandmother I called Nana. Reading your tribute was almost like reading about my own Nana. And boy did she have presence too! Well done, I'm sure your Nana would be proud. (sorry this is a year after the fact, but I just found your blog.)