Losing a grandmother is a slow burning grief, unlike the fiery intensity of losing a mother. Having lost my mother first, I can attest to this difference. Of the latter, I recall a frenzied panic and quiet horror. Months needed to pass before the gaping wound had healed enough for me to reflect upon my mom’s life. Almost immediately I was able to reflect upon my grandmother’s. She helped this process considerably by reaching 99 and a half. News of Nanny’s critical fall came mere moments before news of my daughter’s pregnancy. In August, I stood on a sand dune Up North, within a mile of Lake Michigan, as my cell phone delivered one call after the other. I did not yet know Nanny would leave us within the week, but I sensed her passing. I did not yet know KT’s baby was a little girl, but I sensed the possibility when she cited an April due date within days of Nanny’s 100th birthday.
Aspects of Nanny’s personality will live forever in Memory Lake, which brings a strange sort of comfort. She was a villain to my mom, a Nanny to me, and a hero to my daughter. Her villainy passed away with her and my mom, leaving the best of the rest to ‘live on’ in my daughter and me. Over Thanksgiving, KT said, “I want you to live a very long time, so you can be Nanny, I can be Gramsy, and we can see my daughter’s baby.” I accepted the challenge. Then I announced, “But, my name is going to be Mamie.”