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Nannie’s House

Funny how my thoughts somehow
drew themselves to her bathroom.

It seems a place I once read about,
its memory is so far distant,
and not the place whose particulars
I contemplated often at that time.

I can actually see the coldness
I felt there in winter,
through the floor,
in the lukewarm bath water,
resting on that cold porcelain sink;
It was all so old, even then.

And there was always the crocheted frog,
on his lily pad in yarn water
that covered the lid of the toilet.

But I never think of it these days…

A wonder,
since in this one moment of remembrance,
it bursts forth and embodies that whole place,
the entire memory of my existence there.

Then suddenly I realize the
presence of all those rooms,
and the attic where we sometimes played,
and I know their individual potential
for recalling my childhood are great.

I see the vagueness of a porch
with jars and cans and plants.

I know the kitchen,
and the wood stove we
dressed in front of

in the cold morning,
the table we made cookies on,
her freezer against the back wall,
and the counter where I played my
new radio the day after Christmas.

Then the living room,
where two chairs sit and wait,
and granddaddy longlegs crawl the wall;
in the floor is a box fan to lay in front of
on a long summer day;
and there’s a soft and saggy couch
just right for staying up all night to watch tv.

Here’s the room I would stay in
where I lie awake,
and thought and dreamed,
and saw the sun rise the next morning.

There’s Grandpop’s doorway and
I can see his spirit facing it,
sitting on the side of the bed,
smoking cigarettes and just as drunk
as his body was when it lived there.

At the end of the hall I find her room
where she and Becca slept when we stayed;
inside is the dresser with her girdles in
the top drawer, those earrings, Wind Song,
and I borrow her cross necklace to
wear to church in the morning.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. krystal #

    This made me cry. Beautiful. I miss nannie so much. Sometimes I have dreams where we’re talking. It’s almost like she’s really there. I think my favorite memory of pawpaw was him sitting out by the well (the one with pump on it) smoking and drinking his nasty red white and blue beer. We’d bring stray kittens up to him and he’s say “where’s my knife? I cut cats ears off”. We’d get all upset and then he’d say “I’m gonna stretch this cat and make him into a greaaat long cat”. Nannie would tell us to stop being silly and getting upset, that he loved those cats more than we did.
    I also truely believe that she had a 24 hour hee haw chanel.

    August 31, 2011
    • I wrote this 15 or more years ago, so it’s been around a long time. One day, that silly crocheted frog popped into my head…and then the rest. Still, when I was typing it up and re-working the spacing a bit, I cried.

      It seems like Becca and I spent every weekend of every summer there. I know we didn’t, but that’s how big the memories are. I don’t remember the cats, but I remember how embarrassed I was when Nannie would ask why the new girl across the street was named Ronnie (or something like that). Several times – very loudly – she said, “that’s a BOY’S name.” Ugh. Can I crawl into the ground, now? I remember all the chickens, Burt and his wife next door, when she had the baby without ever realizing she was pregnant, the pond way back there, Pawpaw’s garden, and definitely the well with the pump handle. They would spend the evenings sitting in their lawn chairs out there, under that huge tree. We would run around with the neighbor kids and catch lightening bugs and just play. And yes, there seemed to be hee haw all the time. But, we did get to watch our shows later at night. I think Friday night was Dukes of Hazzard. I can still hear that narrator guy’s voice. And Saturday night was Love Boat and Fantasy Island.

      I do remember talking to her many times, about family or religion. But I don’t remember the conversations. That’s what makes me the saddest, is knowing those conversations existed, but not knowing what we said.

      August 31, 2011
  2. Beverly #

    Love the story, Michelle! I remember my granny’s smells, sounds, textures, and stories too! Hee haw, Dukes of Hazard, Love Boat and Fantasy Island were definitely on the tube for the weekend! Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. Makes me want to make sure I get them down on paper sometime soon as well!

    September 13, 2011
    • You should definitely do it! This was really just a straight from memory piece for me and it has kept those memories so alive for me. Plus it’s helped me remember other things about that time, every time I read it.

      September 13, 2011
  3. rebecca p #

    I don’t remember anything about Nannie really. I vaguely remember hee haw. I know that I took baths in her kitchen sink. I know the house was real cold in winter. I remember that Mom and Dad went through a phase where they went out a lot and we stayed at Nannies on the weekends for that. I remember she wouldn’t let me sleep in the other room I always had to sleep with her. I tried to sleep above the sheets because she had used tissues all over the bed and I thought that was gross. Now its just practical. I remember very very little else. Not the neighbors, or pond or garden or anything really. Oh, getting teased. I hated it when the extended family was there because I got teased and no one ever stood up for me, or made it stop.

    September 21, 2011
    • I’m surprised that you don’t remember much. I guess I thought you were older when we spent the most time there, but now I’m thinking that maybe you were only about 8 or so. I do remember that you hated the tissues in the bed, though. Mostly for me, the memories are more like snapshots. Certain things stand out very clearly, like the kitchen table, the kitchen counters, and the freezer. I remember playing in the sink with soapy water and cups and whatnot. And also playing in the attic, just around the top of the ladder. I remember some of the teasing and that you didn’t like it, but I didn’t realize how much you hated it until we were older.

      September 22, 2011

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