January has not been kind in the area of loss. 3 out of the last 4 years have found us welcoming the New Year while saying good bye to a loved one. A year ago today, I received an unexpected call from my mom that my Nanny has passed away in her sleep of an apparent heart attack. It was just a few days after her birthday. Ice storms had prevented the family from getting together with her that weekend. I had mailed a card, but I am sad to say, I hadn’t called her yet, for reasons that escape me now.
There was much about my Nanny’s life to be celebrated, but there is one thing that floats to the top for me.
My Nanny was a terrific gift giver. She would insist on shopping each Christmas for all the kids, grand-kids and great grand-kids, picking out something they wanted or needed. No gift cards – no sir. The same went for all birthdays if you were under 18. It always amazed me how she noticed little things about you that translated into a personal gift. Even when we lived in another state and only saw her once or twice a year, she somehow still managed to accomplish this. My mom has inherited this knack for gift-giving. And it has fostered my love for searching for the perfect gift, although I am still honing my abilities.
She also lavished her gift in the kitchen on her family. She worked for many years at the Kroger bakery and could turn out a cake to marvel at. My favorites, though, were her mac-n-cheese, chicken pot pie and dressing. That was some good eatin’!
Her greatest gift, though, the one I sought out to earn, was her laugh. She enjoyed a good laugh, but it wasn’t always easy to come by. And much like she had to do her homework, know her subject to pick out the perfect gift, you had to know your subject to elicit a genuine laugh. But when you did, it was something to treasure. The laugh itself was unique. Hard to say whether it was more of a chuckle or what. It wasn’t loud or tinkly just a simple eh, eh, eh, eh. The more eh’s the better. I can still hear it in my head after a year. I hope I can keep it there, like a beautifully wrapped package, a gift to be opened and savored over and over again.
Thank you, God, for Nanny and for the blessing of her gifts.