Preparing my grandmother’s eulogy this month was a bittersweet labor. Many memories contain her loving smile, adoring laugh, and robust walking stride. But mostly, they involve her fierce desire to keep family close. Even after fifty years, Nanny never forgave my dad for moving her daughter and two granddaughters four hours away from her. She also never forgave him for sending us to summer camp for seven weeks at a time over five consecutive summers. She truly believed Dad had forced us to attend. Up to her final 99th year, her perception of this never faded. Even after showing her the entire novel I’d written to extoll the virtues of summer camp, she still did not believe we attended willingly, let alone enjoyed it.
So it is with bittersweet longing to hear it one more time, I recall Nanny’s version. Never mind the camp’s beautiful setting, enduring friendships, and incredibly fun activities, we cried and cried all the while, begging to return home, writing tearful letters every day begging for escape. Not.