My Grandma, My Nanny and Me

Grandma & Nanny, and me, a brief history v4.1

My grandmother’s hairpiece was in the shape of a “bun” that so many gray haired senior ladies had on the top of their head in those days. When I was a kid it looked kinda funny to me. As I got older I came to realize that the “bun” was a kind of wig that she wore. 

I’ve noticed that this hairstyle seems to have come back into fashion in recent years. Today it looks good. Really. Take it from me. The adult me. Even guys have one sometimes.

Back then, to me – the child, it looked kinda like a doorknob sticking out of the top of her head.

And the adult me and the history buff in me now wonders what I missed knowing about my grandparents in those days. Back in the early “Bun Days.”

So, I’m looking back to my grandma’s days. Stuff that was going on in my family in those days has me curious. There is so little that I really know. But now I’ve run out of time to learn very much about those days and, of course, I’m out of grandparents to ask.

)My grandmother was a lady who was almost always dressed in white. Seeing her dressed in white was my expectation when I visited and it almost always was just so. Except on Sunday if she had attended church. The white dress had to do with her work as a nurse.

“Grandma” was what I called her. I told you that already.

I had a “Nanny” too. She lived two blocks from my house in an apartment. Nanny didn’t have a car I don’t think. I think that Grandma had a car and that car was always parked in front of her house. The house was about halfway across town. For me, a kid, that was pretty far. 

So grandma’s job was working as a nurse. My job was being a kid. And, oh yeah, she baked cakes. 

Her “bun” of gray hair, that doorknob sticking out of the top of her head, apparently now returning into fashion was fastened to her with bobby-pins. I bet she wouldn’t have liked me to grab it on top of her head to turn that doorknob.

And I did think about it. There were a lot of chances to twist that bun. It would have been easy when grandma sat in her chair. There were tons of chances. I had some sort of a plan. But I never did it. It would have been bad. 

My Nanny, who lived closer to me, would ask me, when I visited her, how I was doing in school. Grandma, the other one, didn’t ask me any questions that I can remember. But she was alright and I liked visiting her and she almost always had just made angel food cake right before I would arrive to visit her. 

My nose, which is a sugar magnet to this day, would pick up the familiar sweet smell as I entered into her house. Usually slices of strawberries were put on the side and the top of the cake, placed into the frosting, which was whipped creamy white.

You had to wait for the cake to cool down before the frosting could be put on. 

Grandma was my father’s mother I was told. I can’t say that I remember my father and his mother being very close to each other. Like hugging and kissing, and all that, the way my mom and I did. I guess that they were close, just older. Eventually Grandma had her brother Joe living with her. He didn’t talk to me either. Except one time when Uncle Joe told me to not be such a pest. I thought about that for a long time.

Because I am now older than my Grandma ever lived to be, that can explain why I don’t remember much of her, except the angle food cake. And the bun and the white dress. But I wonder if anybody in that side of the family was ever very interested in my Mom’s kid. That would be me. What did they think of me? There is no history available on what they thought of me back then. I was a quiet kid. Usually I was seen but not heard I guess.

I don’t know what I would have had in my mind to say to them anyway. Probably at Christmas when Grandma gave me a shirt or something I would thank her very much. 

Still I remember that my Nanny used to offer me a candy when I visited. The candies were paper wrapped candy. It wasn’t my favorite but those Sailors Butterscotch candies really remind me of my Nanny. 

I think it is fair to say that different grand mothers and nannys are tossed out to kids just like different grandchildren are tossed out to grandparents. Occasionally some kid gets a real winner.

Some kids probably ask a lot of questions and they find out a lot of stuff about their grandparents. I was shy. They said that I was shy. Hell, looking back, we all may have been shy. In my family it wasn’t required that grandparents and grandchildren get to know each other one to one. That wasn’t my family way. 

I guess life offers kids a lot of missed opportunities. I was OK with that. It was normal. I was the kid.

But, I will say, Kids get a bonus in life when they are raised with their grandparents nearby. I had a double bonus with both a grandma and a nanny. 

So thank you very much Grandma. Your angel food cake was the best. I’m glad that I didn’t twist and yank on your doorknob bun back then. Though it might have been fun. A hard pull would have probably loosened it and the top of your head would have been seen to be just as bald on top as I am bald on top now. Runs in the family.

After grandma died and her house was sold, it turned out that she had left me $2,000 which helped me buy a used 1957 TR3 sports car. A red one.

I had a wonderful time with that sports car in those days..

If Grandma could have talked to me from her grave I would have told her that that car was just the car I wanted. It was perfect.

And, think about it, if she could ask me that today from her grave then It might have been possible for us to have a fine conversation. And could lead me into learning to a lot of history I don’t have now.

So today, right now, where I stand, at this point, I have this to get off my chest. I am Goddamn tired of being told that I should live each and every day in my life as if it’s my last. I’m already doing that. In my own way. And I’m not being a pest either.

Enough is enough! If I had a habit of doing this and done it back when my Grandma was alive, no doubt I’d be full of answers. I’d have lots of history to tell you. But, I didn’t and I don’t. And count on this, I won’t and I never will. Ain’t gonna happen.

And that’s what I know. And oh Grandma, if you’re looking down, do you think I need a doorknob? I mean a  bun?


They call me "Sweeps"

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