Great Nan Is Dead

8 May

My grandmother died a few months before her 95 birthday. I remember coming home from somewhere to my husband and youngest in arms waiting at the door. Before my foot crossed the threshold, my baby blurted out, “great Nan died”.

So many old photos with no dates.

Nan had been sitting on the bed with my mother helping to dress for the day, when her heart just gave out. I would say that it wasn’t a bad way to go, except Nan was mostly deaf and totally ornery. As her 24/7 caregiver, I’m sure that my mother had mixed feelings though she’d never admit it. She adored her mother and repeated frequently how she could never make rice pudding nor potato salad as good as Nan’s.

My mother in the front with her siblings and mother.

I was named for my grandmother which didn’t keep our personalities from clashing on more than one occasion. She once prevented my six year old daughter from joining her grandparents for weekday mass because, “you can’t go to church dressed like that.” I had been looking forward to a quiet hour sans daughter. I got mad and told my grandmother to mind her own business. Not my finest hour.

My mother to the left of center. Nan also lost a child to whooping cough and another died at birth.

This Mother’s Day I am thinking of her. She was a single mother during the Depression, working as an operator for Bell Telephone and just about any job she could find, to provide for her family. She loved to drive and frequently flirted with truck drivers by honking and waving. She always had a lifesaver or some other sweet in her purse to delight a grandchild. Nan thought nothing of inspecting me and my four siblings for dirty ears and sending us off to the bathroom if we didn’t meet her standards.

Left bottom was her 81 birthday. She wore a wig because of her thinning pate.

Today her twelve grandchildren (actually there’s two more, but that’s another story)have managed to produce twenty-six grandchildren, and forty-seven greats, as far as we know. Her Irish Catholic blood is passed down from a line of strong women. Her own mother Anna outlived three husbands and was married mother and widowed in one year.

Happy Mother’s Day out there, today and every day, however you mother, whoever you mother, and whatever you mother.


Four generations of moms.

11 Responses to “Great Nan Is Dead”

  1. Karen Hodgens May 9, 2021 at 8:14 am #

    Beautiful pictures. Happy Mother’s Day Alex.

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 May 9, 2021 at 9:12 am #

      Thanks Karen. There are so many stories not passed down by my parents. This blog is turning into a walk down memory lane.


  2. Jan Barlow Frans May 9, 2021 at 1:53 pm #

    All these pictures are so precious and I see you in all of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 May 9, 2021 at 3:03 pm #

      They are part of me, and I’m in them. Relationships are complex. I wish we could be together to talk, cook, dance.


  3. Emilie Vardaman May 9, 2021 at 9:35 pm #

    Love the final four photos!


  4. Jack Scott May 10, 2021 at 3:23 am #

    95, a fantastic age. Here’s hoping we get that far!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ms Tisdale May 10, 2021 at 6:07 am #

    Love the photos of the 4 generations of moms: you all have identical noses and mouths. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • afish25 May 10, 2021 at 6:38 am #

      My grandmother, mother and I were all born in February. We’d go to New York City for our birthdays. Always felt special.


  6. May 12, 2021 at 10:15 pm #

    How nice! Thanks for sharing!!!! Pics and all. ~Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

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