“You will always be by my side. From the day that I met you, I knew that I would love you till the day I die. And I will never want much more. In my heart I will always be sure. I will never forget you.”
I called my grandma Nanny. Funny when I think about it, but I called her that even as an adult. This post is in dedication to her and all the love she gave to such a mean and hateful child. So please, settle into your seat and relax as I tell you about my one true love, my Nanny.
From as far back as I can remember, my grandma was a constant in my life. She was literally my everything, once upon a time. She was my grandma, my mother, my father, my best friend… I guess grandmas just have that way with them, huh? Not quite a love like theirs.
When I was young, my mother worked a lot. When my father was completely out of the picture, Mama worked a whole lot more. She was a bartender, often working double shifts and often working very late into the night. While she worked, me and my little brother would stay at Nanny’s. Sometimes we hated going, sometimes we loved it. She lived in these shitty little one bedroom apartments that couldn’t have been more than 500 square feet. It may not have been pretty to the eyes, but the real beauty was on the inside.
My grandma loved us more than life. Every time we got dropped off, she’d just light up. “Dear God, there’s my babies,” she’d shout with joy before showering us with hugs and kisses. No one ever loved us like her. But, like everyone else in this world, Nanny didn’t suffer from the tragedy of perfection. She was extremely agoraphobic, and couldn’t venture past the safety of her porch. Because of that, neither could we. We weren’t allowed to play with the other kids. If we tried, she’d have a breakdown and chase us around with a switch, cursing and threatening with the police. She’d flip tables, throw phones and ashtrays at us… but still, it was all out of love. She wanted to protect us from the mayhem and madness she saw in the world. So, we stayed in a closet roughly 4 x 5, playing with toys or watching local TV.
When I was 13, my adoptive father uprooted me, my mom and brothers, and moved us 800 miles away to Texas. I left friends, family, everything I’d known… but the most painful goodbye was to my beloved grandma. We were both so heartbroken. I have never had a goodbye so agonizing and heart-wrenching in my life. Letters in the mail and calls on the phone were all we had.
Then something horrible began happening. After suffering the devastating loss of her son, my Nanny was diagnosed with cancer. I was in my senior year of high school when I heard the news. I remember feeling blindsided, with a feeling like the world had fallen from beneath my feet. There was no one back home taking care of her and she was getting so sick so quick. So… I dropped out of high school and drove home to take care of her.
For the time that I was there, to put it simply, it was amazing. I was back home, reunited with the most important and loving person in my life and everything was as it should’ve been. I’d go shopping for her, take her to her appointments, help her with her anxiety. She’d watch TV with me and read the bible to me at night… But then God did what he does best as he wrote yet another plot twist into my life: Grandma’s cancer got worse, but not before she suffered the early stages of dementia. She began forgetting places, names; she even forgot the death of her son. I guess that had something of a silver lining.
Later that year, on December 1st, I awoke that morning and began to cry. I wasn’t sure why, though. There was just this dull ache inside, and it was almost like I somehow knew. Then my mom came into my room, crying–and everything became a bit surreal. Nanny had died.
My grandma, my mother, my father, my best friend–she was gone.
“Would you know my name, if I saw you in Heaven? Would you be the same, if I saw you in Heaven? I must be strong, and carry on, cause I know I don’t belong here in Heaven.”
Eric Clapton, Tears in Heaven
Nanny was the only one who really saw me. She was the only one who gave me more love than this world could hold. She may have done it in her own special way, but it was still love. My most fond memory of her is when I’d awake in the early morning on the blowup mattress in the living room. I’d look over and see her sitting by the cracked front door, smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of coffee. She’d looked to me and smile. “Go back to sleep my Little Angel,” she’d say.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. And as times get rough, the ground beneath my feet gets shaky, and my knees get weak, I find myself needing something to lean on. Somehow, I always find myself leaning on her. Even though she’s not here, her presence alone is so strong inside me that she can still hold me up and keep me going. I need her, especially when my thoughts reach their darkest; she’s my light.
I miss you Nanny. I love you.
“Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees. Time can break your heart; have you begging please. Begging please.”
Eric Clapton, Tears in Heaven