Today is Veteran's Day and I hope that you will take a moment to reflect on those that have sacrificed their families, careers, and lives to serve our country and protect our freedom. I wanted to tell you a Veteran's Day Love story. It's the story of my Nana.
My Nana had spunk right up until the day she died. We would visit her nearly every Thanksgiving, 2 weeks during the summer and other times as well. In the summer when I was little, Mom and Dad would drop Sister and I off at Nana's. We'd spend 1 week alone with Nana at the lake while Mom/Dad attended a biking event. Then we'd have the remaining week all together as a family.
Nana would never let us have a sip of her Diet Pepsi. She'd always distract us by sending us inside to get one of the Twix bars she kept in her cabinet as treats for us. Years later I learned that Nana liked a bit of Rum in her Pepsi, which is why she wouldn't share. She wouldn't put it in a glass though - she'd add the rum straight to the diet pepsi can, lest anyone find out what she had done!
Nana loved to shop and buy us things - especially clothes. Nana waited in line for hours to be sure each of us grandchildren received a Cabbage Patch doll during that crazy year when they were such a hot ticket item. Nana bought me Miserable Max - my stuffed dog that I still sleep with.
Nana took me in as a wild and rebellious 15 year old. When my mom and I were fighting all the time, Nana let me live with her that summer. She had rules - very different from my mother's house. But you didn't cross Nana - and you treated her with respect. I would never have said the things to Nana that I said to my mother. Or used those words in her presence. That summer Nana taught me to crochet and cross-stitch. And told me so many family stories. I loved that summer.
Nana died in 2003, a few days after I found out and told her that I was having a little girl. One of the last things she did was to buy a pink outfit for my daughter. Nana crocheted afghans and had started one for my daughter. After she died, an aunt finished it for me. I love to curl up underneath it.
I never thought of my Nana as a romantic. I thought of her as a feisty woman who worked in a senior citizens nursing home as a RN, long past the time when she should have been a resident here herself. I remember her as living on her own until the week she died. Nana was divorced from my Grampie as long as I can remember - I think it happened before I was born. I never heard of any other gentlemen in her life.......until about 10 years before she died.
Nana was super excited to introduce us to her "Danny boy." When Sister and I got there, we heard the whole story. Nana and Danny were to be married. Then he shipped off to the war. I don't know what happened, but Nana married my Grampie before Danny's return. Danny returned and got married himself. After Nana and Grampie divorced, Nana ran into Danny. Sparks flew but Danny was still married. Danny's wife was very ill and he believed in his obligation to care for his wife until the end. The end took many years, but Danny stayed devoted to his husbandly duties. Good thing, because I know my Nana would not have respected him if he had handled it any other way. Years went by and Nana heard through the grapevine that Danny was a widower. A meeting was arranged and sparks flew again. My Nana had a boyfriend!!!
When Sister and I visited, Nana was very careful to tell us that they would not be getting married. She said they were both too set in their ways. Besides, she said, with a twinkle in their eye, they'd "lose too many social security benefits!"
When Nana got leukemia and sickened, she broke things off with Danny. She refused to allow him to care for her as he had cared for his wife. Nana was a proud lady. She refused to walk with a walker, but finally succumbed to using a dignified cane.
At Nana's funeral, I saw Danny. He was there, crying for her. But also celebrating her freedom from the pain on this life. That was how Nana would have wanted it.
While up north for the funeral, Sister and I went to Nana's house and sorted through some things. One box we found contained old pictures. I found one of Nana and Danny, in his war uniform - or so I assumed. But when I asked my Aunt, she said, "no, that was Nana's other boyfriend." Then she showed me one
that really was of Nana and Danny. My Nana was a beautiful woman. Apparently she liked to date the military men too!
When I think back about Nana, I remember her with a twinkle in her eyes. Her feisty spirit. The way she would not tolerate anyone talking badly in her presence about any of her family. But then she wouldn't hesitate to tell that same family member to "ship up." I admired the way she refused to cut of contact with my Sister and I, when my dad "disowned" us. Nana would not tolerate any bad-mouthing of my father in her presence, even by us. She claimed it was disrespectful. But then she made it clear she had no use for his new wife, or my dad's actions in cutting of contact. I heard that she let him have it a time or too as well, for his conduct.
I know my memories have little to do with Veteran's Day, other than the fact that my grandmother loved a man in uniform ;) but the memories make me smile, and I hope that you'll get a chuckle too.