Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Broom

My great aunt Anne was eight years older than my grandmother. Even so, the two vied for all sorts of things growing up. Attention, recognition, and even wedding dresses. They were married within a year of one another and since my grandmother was engaged first she got to pick out the dress they had to share. It was a wound I don't believe ever healed.

When I was little my grandmother flew in and out of my life. Decked out in furs and diamonds and dropping off gifts from far away places. T-Shirts that said things like "My Grandma and Grandpa went----------- and all they bought back was this lousy shirt"

Before my Papa died, my grandmother didn't hold the rights to holidays. Well, Easter. She claimed Easter. She even cooked rabbit once. No kidding.

The holder of the holidays for me and my mom was my Great Aunt Anne. We called her Nanny.

Nanny was a grandmother to me in all the best ways. She took care of me when my mom needed a sitter. Her house was a fairytale stucco cottage with arched doorways and wall to wall carpeting protected with walkways made of iridescent plastic. I remember inspecting the fascinating things. Walking along the shiny paths and pretending the carpet was the ocean and I mustn't fall in.

She fed me my favorite childhood foods. Things I never got anywhere else. Black cherry soda and melon balls.

She was the first person I knew who had cable television. Remember the boxes with the buttons to push and the dials on the side? Yeah. It was downright amazing at Nanny's house.

She taught me how to play Monopoly. I can still remember her patience. I see her sitting on her couch and carefully coaching me through the rules as well as the most efficient way of keeping my money sorted.

"Honey, keep the money under the board. That way it won't fly away."

She never, not once, lost her patience with me. And I pushed people, let me tell you.

I put a plastic bag over my head in her living room one Christmas Eve. That's the night I learned NEVER TO DO THAT EVER AGAIN.

I slid up and down the carpeted attic steps until I got rug burn. Sometimes sliding right under a crowded holiday dining room table. Not a peep out of Nanny.

We celebrated birthdays, Thanksgiving and New Years Eve with that portion of my family. Nanny had red hair. She was beautiful. I miss her.

Nanny lived a long life. She raised good kids. She died in her own bed, surrounded by her family. Not many can say that anymore.

A few weeks before she died, I went to visit her with my new baby and my first daughter. They were eight years apart. I hadn't been to her house for so long and was amazed at the safety and warmth the arches and carpet could still evoke.

I sat on the side of her bed and let her hold my new baby. While she cooed and kissed the soft baby fuzz I remembered the times I'd slept in that very bed. It was where I discovered the clapper. Nanny introduced me to all kinds of neat gadgets. I smiled.

Nanny shooed my older daughter out of the room.
"Suzy, please listen to me."
"What Nanny? Anything. What do you need?"
Her eyes filled with tears.
"Please don't put the broom behind the closet."
"Just because you have this brand new broom, don't put the old broom behind the closet. Okay?"

And the world went still.

I didn't Nan. I never put the older broom behind the closet. But I might have, if you hadn't warned me.


  1. Lovely story. She was wise. People should revere their grandparents.

  2. Awwww, girl I LOVE this story! It almost made me cry. You have had such an interesting life. Your post are all like something out of a novel itself. I cannot wait to read your book! I put my monopoly money under the board as well. I am so glad that you never put a bag over your head again. :o) Your Nanny sounded awesome and in a way so did your Grandmother. Great Post! And I totally agree with your Nanny's last words. It goes to show the pain that she must have felt over the issue.

    Also, love the new profile photo! I have been out of the loop for a little while and noticed it on my blog, but just wanted to let you know. :o)

  3. Suzyhaze, this is just lovely! Every child should have a Nan in their life, and her house sounds wonderful, fascinating.
    And the idea of sharing a wedding dress, well haven't times changed? I can feel her hurt through your words.

  4. I love your blog's new face lift! And, this story? Awesome. Nanny was a very special lady. Thanks for sharing her with us.

    And sorry - didn't mean to leave you speechless. ;-)

  5. I love this story suzanne. So wise. I can hear you Nan in your words. I don't just mean in this story. I mean living in the wisdom of out of which you write.


  6. This one gave me goose bumps, Suzanne. Thank you so much for sharing. Your writing really speaks to my heart.

  7. I tell you and tell you how amazing you are but I don't know that I can say it enough. You. Are. Amazing.
    What a true pearl of wisdom. What a beautiful, wonderful aunt. I'm so glad you heeded her. I'm so glad to learn your life, one bit at a time.

  8. I am still a little new to your blog, and what a way to start reading you - such a beautiful story.

  9. Oh this is such good advice, and it' definitely an easy mistake to make. I love your Nanny.

  10. I got a little shivery, because my grandmother's sister with about the same age gap was Great Aunt Anna. Lovely story.

  11. This is a gorgeous homage. Nanny's story is in good hands.

  12. Suzy, that was just lovely. Now we know where you get your turn of phrase. Nanny left a legacy, and we've all benefited.


  13. Your story gave me chills. It was lovely. Thanks for sharing Suzy. =)

  14. I loved this story and hearing of your love for Nanny....and the wise advice she gave you, priceless.....:-) Hugs

  15. Beautiful story, Suzy! I was right there with you sliding down the steps getting carpet burn!

  16. Oh man, this post made me MISTY! Lovely, lovely.

  17. What a lovely post Suzy, and what a wonderful Nanny you had.

  18. Wow, I absolutely love the resonances of a family pattern that could repeat itself (bitter sibling rivalry) being so gently, poetically addressed by this wise woman. And how Nanny knew she could trust you to do the right thing with your kids because you didn't treat her like "the old broom", but cherished her uniqueness.

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  20. You amaze me. So talented. Have I already said that a million times? What's one more?

  21. Yes. We all love the baby. They need us to hold them and feed them and then we are spoiling them and yes even ignoring the other. I had two younger sisters. I was definitely an old broom. Got my own dress for the big day. So sad. You want to just buy her one even though she's gone. Sounds like a sweet, sweet woman.
    Great Story!!!!

  22. That was both eye-opening and touching on many levels. A lovely story. Thank you for sharing.