I've gone on at length before about who this more than precious person is... so for more on today's topic, click here and here. Maybe I'll be through going on about her someday... but I doubt it. Thanks for understanding.
Do you know this little girl?
I did. Well, much later, anyway. She grew up mostly in Enid, OK but spent a few years in Stilwell, OK too. She lived with her mother and stepfather, and later her two younger sisters (half sisters, but "half" never made it into the relationship).
Work was scarce, and her mother often took in laundry so they could afford to eat. Some of the depression-era things never quite left her in some ways. Her father owned and ran a lumberyard in Enid, and she did get to visit him until my mother was young. Her stepmother wasn't a fan and wanted her out of the picture, and eventually got her way.
That's her again, on the far right. This was an FHA project, this being the after school result of it. She couldn't ever remember exactly what the project was, only that it was something silly for FHA (Future Homemakers of America, for you young'uns that only know FCCLA).
Somewhere along in there, she met the son of the man who owned and operated the telephone company in that part of Oklahoma. He was the baby, the youngest of seven with four brothers and two sisters.
Aren't they sweet? This was, if I recall correctly, taken at her family's house on a day when my Grandad was visiting. I can't remember if it's from the days when she had to move back to Enid with her family or not... but I do remember that Grandad hitchiked all the way across Oklahoma to see her.
I also remember a story about a blank postcard she received in those days. He had written on the bottom of the stack of postcards, then flipped the stack, addressed the top one and mailed it. Not the one on which he'd written! They laughed about it when I knew them, but I know at the time it wasn't funny.
I love these pictures. She was so beautiful, so fragile, so ladylike in a setting that I know required hard work of her. She desperately wanted to be a nurse, but never got to go to school. I know she wanted to be in band, but there was zero money for such frivolities.
This is Nanny with her mother, our Granny. Not sure when or why, but this was taken after Nanny and Grandad *ahem* Carlene and Robert were married, at Granny's house in Enid. It's pretty obvious here who she looked like... she really took after her father, Pop. She even had his bow legs, and though she wasn't proud of them, every time I see someone with bow-legs I smile, remembering how silly it seemed for someone so pretty to be so preoccupied with her knees.
I love the candidness of this shot. This was on a day when she and Grandad took my mother to see her dad, Pop, on a construction job. They weren't welcome in his home by his wife, from what I hear, but they could triangulate and meet to visit when he was at work. Not too long later, this way of meeting wouldn't work any more. She lost contact with Pop until I was in junior high. I'm still humbled that I got to be the first person to go with her to see him when she found him again.
That dress in the picture? She made that. You can't really see mother standing in front of her, but she was wearing a matching dress. Nanny was cool like that.
This was on another day, visiting Grandad's family at his childhood home in Stilwell. Mother's on Nanny's lap, and standing behind them is Nanny's nine-years-younger sister, Gladys Mae. She and their younger sister Dixie often visited Nanny and Grandad in the summer, getting to do whatever they went to do.
Same kind of thing. From left to right is Nanny, Grandpa (who I thought was her dad until I was in junior high), Dixie (I think), Gladys Mae, and Mother. It's apparently one of their many trips out camping or just to the lake for the day. No idea what in the world Mom is holding!
Fast forwarding a bit, simply because I can't fit everything in here... here's a shot of Mother, myself as a little one, and Nanny. This was at Granny's after she moved to Heavener, OK to be closer to Nanny and Grandad.
The rest of the shots I could find rang true with what I remember of Nanny. From silly:
to well, silly... she was always interested the most in her family and friends. There was no greater joy for her than having everyone up on the hill, enjoying a piece of pie, a cup of coffee, and many laughs.
|Nanny, Mother, and I in front of Granny's house in Heavener.|
I'm pretty sure that she and I wanted the same things. An education, to help others, and to have a safe, happy, solid place for our kids to grow.
I know she wasn't perfect, but I do know she loved us. She loved us and wanted us to love each other and care for each other.
|Nanny and Dixie outside Pop's cabin in Ames, OK|
I know I miss her.
|My university graduation day, providentially enough on Nanny's birthday.|
I don't know everything about her, but I know how much I loved her. And I know how much she loved me.
I miss her laugh.
I miss hearing her say, "Good girl."
I miss her greeting as we pulled onto the top drive.
I miss knowing she was there... that I could dial that same number and have a friend.
I wish I could go back and retroactively give her the things she gave me.
I know I've tried to put it all into words before, and I know I'll always fail to convey who she was and why, as my uncle put it this morning, it's been two years and our hearts still bleed from losing her.
Since words fail, you'll just have to trust me. She was wonderful.
She was so much to all of us that none of us could even talk about the idea that she couldn't live forever. It's been two years today since I promised I remembered all she taught me and kissed her good-bye, and it's still hard.
As I prepare to make one of her favorite meals for one of her favorite times of year, my heart aches and smiles at the same time to see her handwriting on the recipes.
I wish my kids could know her as I did. And I used to wish she was here. Yes, I was glad she was out of pain. No, I wouldn't wish her back into that cancerous, tortured shell her body had become. I miss her spirit, her seeming unsinkability. I will forever be grateful for her lessons, intended and unintended.
I wish I could say something magical right here that would make death and pain and mourning all better, but I can't. It's not okay, it is painful, and the only thing that makes it right is Christ. And I don't even understand all of the ins and outs of that.
But I do know that God loves us. I know that death and seeing us hurt is not what he loves. And I know that He loves us enough to send us comfort in the knowledge that He is in charge. He is sovereign! We don't have to figure it out.
We can, however, accept the gift of the comfort of the Gospel.
Thanks be to God for my dear Nanny's life, and for His comfort in her death.