Thursday, July 26, 2012

# 317 - All's Not So Bad

Everyone should have a Lola in their family. My Lola is my great-maternal-grandmother. My mother and her grandmother were best-friends, so I got a heavy dose of this my credit. My great-grandmother stayed at our house for most of my childhood. On many school days, I'd come home to find my Nanny there because she was my official "babysitter."

Lola lived a very interesting life. She died at only 66 years of age, under very tragic circumstances and I have always missed her. There are some people in your life whose absence leaves a big heart-pothole and she is on the list of pothole worthy people.

Nanny's mother was full-blooded Native American Indian. Nanny's grandfather was the medicine man of the tribe, which is a position of honor and prestige within a tribe. So, my Nanny raised me with MANY Native American traditions that I thought were "normal" for every family to know.

One of the things she would always say during a rainstorm was that it would rain again tomorrow if the sun could be seen during today's rain. She taught me how to SMELL rain before it ever made an appearance and to FEEL the weather, as if my body were a barometer. To this day, I still make jokes about my body being a barometer, but that joke comes from CONSTANT childhood lessons about the weather. I taught the same to my children.

She taught me how to watch the clouds, to look for rain in the distance and to know whether it was coming my direction. I suppose she found all of these abilities to be very valuable in the days of not having a reliable weather man on television with a fancy weather radar to warn everyone in advance to head indoors.

All I know is...I have extreme heightened senses related to the weather. When I'm in the forest, I notice the trees on a level that I can't even describe to others. I notice the slightest change in the wavering of the limbs, noticing how far down the branches the movement is spreading, I can hear the changes of the wind flowing in and around the trees with every sound seeming to be magnified by my internal radar...often I've asked people around me, "Is it going to rain?" I can sense rain, even though the sun is out...I can SENSE it coming even though the weather appears deceptive. So often I've been answered, "No, it wasn't in the forecast." However, usually within 30 minutes, we're beneath a sudden summer downpour.

It took a few years for my husband to realize that if I'm asking the question, it's probably about to rain, no matter how it looks outside. I think his own senses have been heightened by my constant attention to the changes in weather throughout our marriage. Probably, no one discussed it on the level I had approached it...but my children definitely are more in-tune with the weather than most young adults their age.

Most of my childhood lessons about the weather revolved around rain. I guess being able to sense these things for nature-respecting people such as Native Americans had been integral to their daily life and passing down these things to children and grand-children were very important.

So many things she taught me. I wish I would've had more time with her.

My nanny grew up as what many would consider to be a "wild child" which was probably typical of many Native American families because they were more apt to let their children be children. I could tell things about her that could fill a book. She never had a need unmet, yet she never carried more than $5.00 on her, tucked in a purse, at any given moment. She simply never wanted for much of anything.

Her motto in life was "All's not so bad."

She'd say that in response to everything, even in the midst of terrible circumstances and to the irritation of a few people. However, if something bad happened in the family, she'd swoon and have to find a place to sit, fast. She couldn't tolerate bad things happening to her family. No doubt, she lived a hard life, yet she always found a reason to joke around, to dance, to laugh, and she had so many sisters and brothers that she said she didn't have time for friends.

I'm blessed to have such beautiful memories of being around a woman of unusual strength, of minimal needs, of strong belief in God, yet never to the point of feeling so holy that she judged or preached to others...she truly loved people for who they were in life. She literally lived by example, not by words. It didn't matter if you'd just stepped out of prison or out of church, she'd love you just the same.

I guess this woman instilled the love of country in my blood. Beyond any one's viewpoint of themselves living a "country" lifestyle, this woman was pure country with a bloodline that truly lived off the land. When I was very, very young, I remember being reprimanded to get off the stool at the sink and to quit trying to look out the kitchen window because she was outside catching a chicken and wringing its neck so it could be served for dinner.

After that incident, my mother seemed to think it was uncivilized for me to be exposed to such things, so she insisted she buy chicken for nanny from that point forward. Slowly, the chickens disappeared and were not replaced. I guess this is why I started to develop a huge desire for chickens, my mom didn't allow me to go out back with the chickens...I guess she was trying to further our family's "civilization" in her own way.

Weekly, I sat on the porch preparing vegetables just picked from the garden with my nanny; she'd sing songs from church and hum a few beautiful soft chants that I wish I could remember with more than vagueness. She taught me to savor these ordinary moments as part of a glorious day.

Most people find peace during the pitter-patter of rains. For me, my entire life, it's like a heavy sedative. I'm so in-tune with nature that a rainy afternoon brings me tremendous relief, as if I'm under pressure and the rain is my relief valve that's letting off tension. My girls are the same way. Beware of rain because if it hits, they go out like a light.

I guess I associate rain with tender teachings of my youth and it helps me to remember, no matter what...All's not so bad.


Ellen said...

A touching story, I wish we could all have a Nana like yours the world would be a better place. Ellen from Georgia

The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

I adore your Nanny. What a great, wise woman. You could feel the love she had for you ooze through your words. I too wish we could all have someone like her in our lives. I have written down her motto and posted it up on my wall. Also, thank you for your advice, I did get a good one who let me know all sorts of things that I am entitled to. - Jen.

Dee said...

What a wonderful woman and a wonderful childhood you had. Thank you for sharing with us.

LindaG said...

Reliable weathermen?
I wish I had known your Great Grandmother.


It's been a while since I've checked your blog and I'm so glad I did. Loved the story about your Nanny.
My grands call me Nanny and I hope they have the kind of fond memories of me as you do of your Nanny. Great photos too. Thanks so much for this. It touched my heart.
Blessings, Barb

Hookin It With Mr. Lick Lick said...

Your Nana sounds wonderful. I didn't get to know my maternal grandparents very well as our family had moved to FL when I was a child and my mother passed away 2 and a half years after that. She taught you many things. That's awesome. said...

Ellen from Georgia - I do wish everyone had a Nanny like I had. I can still see her smile so clearly in my strong.

The Kelly's Adventures in KY - She was the most peaceful woman, in spite of huge devastations in her life. She was a simple woman and savored life for all she could squeeze from it. She rarely let anyone get her down, but her family was her heart's treasure. I wish I could be more like her! She'd love to know her simple words impacted someone else, all this time after her death. Thank you!

Dee - My Nanny sure did add to many beautiful memories. A positive force is always beautiful.

Linda - I'm with you! Reliable weather reports are something we still can't get figured out. In my area, we always have radar that's showing it's raining here and it's not, or it shows the rain is far away and it's actually raining on top of us. I guess it's an imperfect science. I just tune up my nose!

Barb - thank you for your kind words. I guess we all would love to be remembered and to be thought of with love. My Nanny deserves every good thought that comes her way, she was such a beautiful person with a bubbly personality in spite of severe hardships. I still love her deeply! I bet your grands will do the same for you! Or...your GREAT grands!

Hookin it with Mr Lick Lick - It's so sad when people don't get to know their grandparents, for whatever reason. They can be such a huge source of support, wisdom, history and appreciation of those who are our elders. I've been blessed to have a couple of great grandparents -- I've had a couple of not-so-great grandparents, but that's okay. God blessed me fully with what He gave me --- I never missed out. I'm sorry you lost your mother while you were so young. Sounds like you've had a lot of challenges, yet keep on moving forward!!! You are amazing!