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Mysteries and Family History: She Started It

Sigh. Unpacking sucks. 

I recently moved and as I slowly (seriously snail paced) unpack my totes and suitcases, I realized there were still things I should have given away…things I just don’t need.

Tonight I started opening my totes of books…I will spare you the number of them…but in one of the totes I thought was books, I discovered my family tree research. More than that…it is multiple notebooks compiled by my Nana Jana. 
When I opened the tote…it smelled like her house and tears overflowed my eyes. I may have hugged notebooks. Her notebooks.

She gave them to me about a month before she died. I didn’t want to take them, because I knew why she was giving them to me.  But she insisted. It was much easier to take them than to argue with her. You really couldn’t argue with her. Ever.

I just miss her. So. Much.

She is the reason I am our family historian and researcher. All the information I started with came from her. She started researching in the early 1990’s. Right around the time she lost her Mom. Maybe it was her way of carrying the legacy forward. Maybe it was the way she dealt with her grief. Not sure 100%. But I’m grateful for the foundation I had because of her.

All the information she gave me she got the old school way…calling and writing letters to the family elders. Then she got stuck. She didn’t know how to proceed.

So in 1996 she asked her granddaughter,  who was going to England for a semester,  to check into some things for her while she was there. The granddaughter was really busy studying and flirting with foreign guys and didn’t really do anything. In her defense…she didn’t know how to look up that kind of stuff.

Then in 1999-2000-ish, same granddaughter..aka me…started looking things up online for her Nana. And got hooked by solving the mysteries for said Nana. 

So my unpacking is currently delayed by me hugging her notebooks and running my fingers over her handwriting intermixed with mine, where I filled in blanks for her. 

Even though I proved conclusively we are not related to William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame)…I did find interesting ancestors and entertained her with stories about our people. It was our thing. Like Scrabble and Dancing with the Stars.

So you have Nana to thank if you enjoy mysteries and family history. Cuz…

She started it.

Musical Monday…Seasons and Waves

 Ecclesiastes is not necessarily one of my fave books of the Bible. It is said to have been written by King Solomon towards the end of his life…and it leans a tad cynical with a twinge of regret. I usually gravitate towards the creation in Genesis, the love of 1st John, or the smack down truth of Romans.  But there are times when Ecclesiastes is exactly where I am at.

This past weekend was one of those times.

I wanted to know when it would stop making me sad to go to Aldi, when I could see strawberries and not well up, when sunshiny spring days wouldn’t make my heart hurt, and when Friday night would not seem so empty.

Sounds weird…yeah. But Nana used to call me and ask me to run her to Aldi. Sunshiny spring days we’d play Scrabble on the deck. Whenever strawberries were on sale at Kroger or Meijer I’d pick them up for Papa. Friday night for a really long time was Papa date night. 

Saturday was the anniversary of Nana’s departure to heaven. Papa’s birthday is this Friday. And Papa left to join Nana in heaven on the 30th. March was rough last year…and even harder this year.

I’ve heard grief comes in waves. Well it’s quite the swell today.

When I was asking when those memories would make me smile instead of well up…I heard this…

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal.A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT
Today I’m sad…but thinking of her also made me smile. Same for Papa.

Nana started me on my family tree researching. I loved calling her with breakthroughs and showing her printouts of documents. I miss that. 

I miss being called “Missy.”

I miss her dancing with us in the basement to the 8-Track of silly songs.

I miss Papa date night. 

I miss mall walking with him and him tattling on me to Nana if I bought something while we were there.

I miss looking at the “fake” art, and leaning my head on his shoulder watching Gunsmoke and Bonanza.

 I will always miss them. 

 Point to ponder while you wander… Enjoy today with your people! Embrace the ups and downs, and use them to cultivate a deeper relationship. It’s worth it.

PS..this is a musical Monday so…here’s The Byrds version of the scripture above…it’s a groovy tune.  “Turn Turn Turn

The Cabin

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To you this may just be a simple black cabin with a red chimney on some river.  But to our family, this is “The Cabin.”

The Cabin exists in the memories of 5 generations of our family as the home of Joe and Bettie Kane.  We fortunate few called them Boppie and NaNa.  Many of my childhood memories took place here at The Cabin.  My parents got married here.  I learned to swim here.  I caught my first fish in the trout stream here.  I got pecked in the head by a chicken here.  I learned that fresh dill and chives were awesome in cottage cheese, and fresh picked mint helps an upset stomach here. Against the wishes of my parents, I jumped off the cliff behind the garage into the sand here.  I have many many memories…here are a few…

NaNa had a huge vegetable garden.  When I was small (I want to say 5…maybe 6 years old) I wanted to help her so she had me pulling weeds with her.  But I pulled plants too.  So she sat me in the potatoes and showed me how to kill potato bugs with my fingernails, while she replanted her vegetable plants.  It’s most likely the reason I don’t fear bugs now.

The garage was Boppie’s domain.  In the garage was a beer fridge.  It was filled with Papst Blue Ribbon, AKA “Boppie Beer” and usually some Faygo Rock N’ Rye, Red Pop, or Root Beer for us.  On the outside was an acronym that I tried for years and years to figure out what it meant.  Here’s the acronym:  KYHOOTIBWP.  Seriously what the heck does that even mean?  I asked him and asked him over the years to tell me what it meant.  He’d just laugh and say, “Figure it out Jill-o.”  I begged him one summer’s day to tell me what it meant.  I think I was about 12 or 13 and he finally told me, “Keep Your Hooks Out Of This Ice Box Without Permission.” I felt cool.  Like I was in the know.  Still makes me smile.

When I was 8 or 9, my dad, one of his brothers, a friend of the family, and Boppie went out to their carefully selected and prepared blinds to hunt.  They had been feeding deer in the nearby woods in preparation for hunting season, muzzle loading season specifically.  NaNa, Brian (son of friend of the family), and I were sitting there eating cookies, when all of a sudden NaNa says, “SON OF A BITCH!  There’s that damn deer that’s been eating my garden all summer.”  She grabs her rifle off the wall.  Loads it.  Opens the little kitchen window and pulls the trigger.  She looks at us and says come on.  She hands me the camera and smiles.  She and Brian dragged it to the garage where they hung it up, and she dressed it.  I took a couple pictures and we went inside and washed up. We were just sitting there waiting for everyone to come back.  Finally they did.  NaNa asked if anyone got anything.  They all shook their heads and sadly plopped down on the couch.  I couldn’t contain my excitement as I squealed, “NaNa did.  It’s hanging in the garage.”  Four stunned faces stared at me, as I jumped up and down in excitement telling them the story.

As I think on it now, I laugh because she didn’t have to say a word or gloat or anything.  She let the little blonde with the pigtails do it all for her.  My reward was that she cooked the liver up with onions, just for me.  That may not seem like a reward to you, but that’s because you never had NaNa’s liver and onions.  Nearly every time I visited them as an adult she would make me liver and onions and we’d talk.  I miss that.

When I would get to stay the night at NaNa and Boppie’s, I slept in the bunk room.  It was a small room with built in bunk beds.  There were books, games, and toys in there for the kids when they visited.  And Tyg.  Tyg was a stuffed tiger pillow that belonged to all of us grand kids.  He was much loved.  Anyway…in the morning when we got up for breakfast you could have any cereal you wanted…usually the choices were some flaky cereal like Wheaties, Rice Krispies, and a few flavors of Chex.  The cool thing about this though, was you got to put the powdered chocolate Nesquick on whichever cereal you chose.  I’m pretty sure Bops should have gotten credit for all Cocoa Krispies and any other cereal flavored with chocolate.

The big deal at The Cabin was when you were 12 you were allowed to drive the golf cart around with all the smaller kids in it.  I only drove it once.  My dad was instructing me.  We were in the field next to The Cabin when he was teaching me reverse.  Now the field is large and mostly wide open, except for one telephone pole in the center of it.  I backed into the one hazard in the whole field.  I didn’t do any damage to the cart, but I was the one kid who only drove it once.  I think my dad is as to blame as I was….but it is what it is.

I remember sitting there eating my very chocolaty cereal and watching the birds out the picture window.  NaNa had a big book about the birds of North America, and I loved calling out the names of the ones I knew and looking up the pictures of the ones I didn’t.  Black-Capped Chickadees are still my favorites.  I remember standing at the flagpole in the middle of the yard and teaching my siblings the Pledge of Allegiance.  I remember the Easter Tree filled with all those little plastic eggs, and a blow up Easter Bunny.  I remember sneaking apple slices out of the tub filled with salt water (the apples were being prepped for applesauce). I remember the artesian well that never stopped running with the freshest, coldest water you can possibly imagine.  You don’t forget washing up in water that cold.  Ever.

I have so many memories…but these are a few of the ones that came to mind today.  I hope they make you smile or even chuckle.

Point to ponder while you wander…It’s not necessarily the expensive gifts or trips that stick long in the memory of the kids in your life.  It’s the seemingly little things.  An inside joke.  A small tradition.  Those are the memories that count because they are the ones that last.

PS: Today is NaNa’s Birthday and Monday is Boppie’s Birthday.  Happy Birthday, in Heaven, NaNa and Boppie!

 

Nana’s Playlist

I’ve been playing Scrabble with my Nana since I was about 10 years old. I didn’t win a game until I was 19! Not a single solitary game. Nana never just let you win. She said, “You never learn or get better if someone just lets you win. It is about playing your best game whether or not you win. It is about learning new words and how to play strategically.”

So when I started jumping up and down, celebrating my first victory, she told me she wasn’t going to play with me anymore if this was my sportsmanship when I won. I have learned a lot from my Nana.

As the years have gone by we became more evenly matched, and we just enjoyed playing. We’d be pumped when one of us played all their letters or used an interesting word.
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The best was when we could play on the deck when the weather was nice. I even made a Nana Playlist on my iPod of Glenn Miller Band, Bye Bye Birdie Soundtrack, Beach Boys and other oldies, silly songs, and Disney soundtrack tunes to listen to on those days. I’d crack up because inevitably she’d get up and start dancing when one of her favorite songs would come on.

I lost my Nana on March 11th. And the thing I will miss most this summer is those games and her dancing on the deck.

So in honor of her…here’s two of her favorite dancing songs from the Nana Playlist. I hope they inspire you to dance.

The Rivingtons- “The Bird is the Word

Glenn Miller-“In The Mood