‘Nanny’ was great influence

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2015

On Sept. 18, I was very lucky to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday with her.

I took a short trip to North Carolina that weekend to visit her.

On her birthday, she had a few visitors at home throughout the day, many phone calls and a slew of birthday cards. It made me feel good to know she had so many people nearby who thought about her on her incredible milestone.

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My father and I took her out to the Olive Garden for dinner. That’s her favorite special occasion restaurant and one she doesn’t get to often.

When I think of my grandmother turning 90 years old, I can hardly believe it. She doesn’t seem like 90 to me.

If it hadn’t been for her breaking her leg several years ago, I just know she’d still be driving all over town doing her own shopping and spending more time at her church or with friends.

Aside from some minor physical issues that now require her to use a walker, my grandmother Jane, or Nanny as I call her, is as spry as I ever remember.

I grew up the child of divorce from a very early age and my grandmother played a huge part in raising me. I don’t even know how she had time since she was also caring for her mother, who was not capable of doing any tasks on her own. She passed away when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. She was 102 years old.

I know now that being a caregiver for a parent isn’t easy, so I have come to appreciate the fact that she always made time for me.

I remember sitting on her lap on the front porch swing of her mother’s house. She would tell me stories or sing songs. Her favorite songs to sing were “Jesus Loves Me,” and “You Are My Sunshine.”

I spent a lot of weekends with her in the house. In the evenings after she got her mother to bed, we would watch TV together. She would pop a huge bowl of unbuttered popcorn, the Jiffy Pop kind because I liked to watch the bad expand on the stovetop. She always drank diet Cheerwine, which I never liked but if I wanted a treat, that’s what I had too. She would watch things like “Murder, She Wrote” or “Matlock,” whatever the weekend programming was.

I was always thrilled when she let me change the channel. Not because I didn’t want to watch her shows. I just liked pressing the buttons on the Jerrold cable box.

I may not be old enough to remember what life was life with only three television channels, but I remember what it was like to have to get up off the couch to change the channel.

If it weren’t for my grandmother, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to do a lot of the activities I participated in during or after school. She encouraged me to take jazz dance classes, be in the Girl Scouts and play clarinet in the school band. She made sure I did my homework and picked me up from school nearly everyday. She always made sure I went to Sunday school, church and summer camp. She always made sure I said please and thank you, yes ma’am and no ma’am. She always made sure I ate my vegetables, even if I didn’t want to. Even now when I visit, she dutifully makes sure I eat enough and sends me home with a carload of home-cooked goodies to stash in my freezer.

I suppose I owe a lot of the way I turned out to her. It would be hard to imagine what my life would be like had she not been such a large part of it.

So thank you, Nanny, for always making sure I was polite and kind to others and teaching me to be responsible for my own actions. I’m sorry though, that I just never took a liking to green beans, but I promise I am eating plenty of vegetables.


Michelle Goodman is the managing editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at michelle.goodman@irontontribune.com.