Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gift from Nanna Fisher

"Nanna", the severe little woman we were always glad to have come to stay and equally glad to see go. She was our Grandmother - Nanna Fisher - practical nurse, traveler, widow. I remember her white uniform, her white shoes and stockings, her brisk manner in discussing "private parts of the body". It was embarrassing as a child to be asked if I'd had "my bowel movement today."
I did not have a close relationship with her until I was married and long gone from home. She seemed to me to be critical, bossy, not much fun to be with. But her baking was superb, those little freshly cooked donut holes she would pop into our mouths, those Parker House rolls, raisin filled cookies, chocolate cake with frosting to lick from the bowl. I have her recipes but have never matched her skill.
We minded her well, she was tough. I never remember her putting an arm around me. Her soothing touch was more apt to be the sting of iodine on a knee scrubbed of its scab.
But her influence has carried me well through life. She was always herself - her standards of exellence, what she would say that made the difference. "Children don't have nerves." she'd tell me when I complained of a headache. From her comment that she didn't need an alarm clock but could wake herself at will stayed with me and to this day I can wake on the dot of 7:00. To this day I'm uncomfortable lying in bed in the morning - she'd tell us uf we were awake, it was time to get up.
Her true gift to me was the person she was A woman without self-pity, she continued to expand her outlook throughout her life. She advised us when new mothers of with new ways to parent, to raise our children. At that time, she was in her seventies. She read biography and history and staying up with the news right into her nineties.
The greatest gift to me was the last time I saw her. Sitting in a chair with the book "The Pumpkin Papers" in her lap, she spoke of Alger Hiss and Whitaker Chambers. Then, out of the blue, she gave me her gift: "I am ready to go." No whining about aches, no misery about age, she left me that spirit of life, the knowing that age and death is not something to fear.
©Natalie Norman Baer
When that time comes, I too will be ready.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Being Nice

In World War II we fought the Japanese and years after that war we heard that our grade school principal had a GI son who stayed in Japan and married a woman there. It was years before he brought his family to his hometown. What a shock that must have been for our provincial community. After all, George Washington was said to sleep in the tavern across from our Baptist church.
Greenville was a pretty town in those days, full of apple trees. In the fall Mr. Windsor would open his roadside stand to sell a wide variety of applies: Macintosh, Winesap, Northern, Baldwin. We, our family, didn't need to buy any of them in my grade school days - we just ate them off the trees around our home as we walked through the orchards to catch the bus to school each day. Fifty years later when I visit my childhood home, I am saddened to find all the fruit trees around the house are gone and I see only empty fields.
I remember we pitied the French-Canadian children whose parents worked in the fabric mills at the edge of town. Mother would say, "Be nice to them", as we took the clothes we'd outgrown to their homes.
But it is the "being nice," and "feeling sorry" that I speak of today - unknow to my mother it put up a barrier, an unseen wall between us, accentuated us as different. How much richer our childhood would have been had we shared their heritage, heard their family stories of coming to America.
It would be many years before I discovered my Mother was an eleventh generation "Yankee", whereas my Father was one of the first generation Italians to be born here. What we could have shared with our French-Canadian classmates, weren't we also an intesting mix?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The new blogger

I e-mailed my daughter "your mother is a blogger" amd I could hear her say, "Oh Jeez." But I was wrong - she has more class than that, in fact didn't discourage me at all. Still, I'm not giving her my blog name until I master this new phenomena. I want to design a colorful space with original designs, plaster it with photos of "landscape before drought", "Natalie with Russian bear", add music when I learn how to input it, that sort of thing.
I've given the blogsite to my grandchildren who think Granma is "cool" and warn me not to hit on advertising buttons or say anything I might later be ashamed of. But I'm already "akamai" (Hawaiian for smart), about that sort of thing. A few years ago I entered several surveys, seeking to win $500, etc. My e-mail (now obsolete) has since haunted me with over 800 messages and I hope to eventually overload the system at 1000 or so and pass it into the graveyard of broken dreams. Did anyone ever win one of those surveys?
I can get hooked on blogging, not the ones I write but the ones I find of other people. I love reading about 30 years olds who don't worry about arthritis and stiff knees. Who cares about the 7 year itch compared to being 80 and considering mortality?
No fear, I'll be here another twenty years.