She was certainly a beauty in her day I imagine. In my teen years, I used to thumb through the old black and white photographs of her, longing to have inherited a hint of her handsome traits. She had an exotic beauty about her that I admired – raven hair, tanned skin, strong facial features framed by her widow’s peak. I look in the mirror today and try to catch a glimpse of her. The dark hair perhaps? We definitely share a passion for strawberries, that is certain!
A photograph of my grandmother rests faithfully on my bedroom dresser. From the moment I first saw this photo of her, I fell in love with it. I believe she was a youthful twenty-three years old when it was snapped. Beside it I’ve placed a few moon snail shells and beach glass treasures from Youghall Beach – the place in the world closest to her heart.
Although I walk past that photograph several times a day, the other day I took a moment to pick it up and reflect. Hubby was away on a business trip for the better part of last week so there wasn’t much quiet reflection going on while I was on 24/7 monkey duty! Memories of Nanny flooded my mind. Memories of strawberry jam, walks on the sandbars, her frumpy grandmother bathing suits and her screeching and hollering at the Saturday night hockey game on TV. I suddenly longed so desperately to know the woman behind Nanny on a different level – an adult level. I came to the realization that I only ever knew her through the eyes of a child. She passed away when I was in my early twenties, but had suffered from the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s’ Disease in the years leading up to her death. I focus my thoughts on her healthy years, but feel restricted by a child’s memory and point of view. I would love so much to sit down with her over tea today and see this woman for who she really was. She raised three sons so no doubt she could offer some useful advice in that department! She would have gotten such a kick out of Chi-Chi’s and Muffy’s antics!
Though it is early March, and winter is far from over in my neck of the woods, I find myself dreaming of my trip to Youghall Beach this summer. It’s a place where the past meets the present in our family. My own children delight in the magic of this special place, just as the generations before them did. As I walk those bars, the firm sand under my feet is a direct link to my past and my grandmother. Long before cottages dotted the shoreline, Nanny walked those same bars. She must have done so a thousand times.
So I sit and wonder about what impressions and memories are being ingrained in my children’s minds. What image of their mother will they carry with them from their childhood? Certainly something to ponder…