Thursday, November 28, 2013

A tale of two grandmothers................

I had 2 grandmothers that were polar opposites.

Nana Sweatman - ( Estelle )
Mother of 2
Who looked ( and acted ) very much like Elizabeth  - the Queen of England.
She was a very conservative lady - and very much a sign of her " times ".
She never went out the door without her makeup on - she always wore a full length white silk slip under
her dress. ( making me covet a full length white slip at the age of five )
She'd never have dreamt of going out without her nylons on -
She used monogrammed hankies - never kleenex - they always smelled of her perfume
Her shoes matched her purse.
Her Jet Black almost Blue hair was carefully set at the salon every week.
She wore deep red lipstick - every day of her life ( even while dying of cancer in a hospital bed )
She was fluent in both French and English.
Her mother was of French Canadian and North American Indian background - ( which was denied -
skeletons in the closet did NOT dance in those days ) her Father was a Scotsman - which was
proudly proclaimed
My Father was born " premature " - I think by about 4 months - a medical mystery indeed - but nothing
a little bit of " doctoring " couldn't easily take care of -
Move the marriage date up a little - move the " birth " date down a  little - and voila - a lady's virtue
stayed intact.
My  Father apparently celebrated a birthday that was never his to celebrate - I actually think his birth was by immaculate conception.
She made the best cabbage rolls on the planet.
She went crazy at Christmas - a virtual wonderland - with more presents then any child could ask for.
She treated my Grandfather horribly - I adored him - so it was hard to watch
Many many years after her passing I found out he had been physically abusive with her - ( she was soooo tiny it's hard to imagine ) but now I don't mind that she treated him horribly - the s.o.b.
Her home was kept spotless - and somewhat boring for a little girl - so I made friends with my image in the stainless steel bread box which sat on the counter - she constantly reprimanded me that there was no little " friend " in the bread box and would get quite upset -
And so I chattered away all the more to my " friend "
She took me shopping - frequently - for clothes - shoes - which I adored.
She took me to the hairdressers - frequently -  for horrible old lady haircuts - which I hated.
She wore a fur coat in the winter - with little ankle boots with fur trim.
I always thought they were very wealthy - because that's the persona they gave off.
They never were.
She wore a hat - with a hat pin - I sat on the edge of her bed watching in fascination as she stuck it
through - always terrified she would stab her head.
Everyone looked up to Estelle - she was the lady who could do anything - she was the one that kept the family together - she was the one that could knit and crochet and cook and bake and clean anything.
She was a tea - totaller
She called me Suzy-Q
She was my Father's mother.
I loved her.

Nanny Egan.
Mother of 8
Who looked ( and acted ) very much like Ma Kettle.
She was a " no holds barred " type of women - a rough and ready Irish Woman - who led quite the privileged life growing up - but who had bucked and defied the rules from the moment she was born.
She did NOT wear make up unless she was going to a wedding
When she actually bothered to wear stockings - she held them up to her knees by rolling and knotting them - she was beyond thrilled when " knee highs " were invented.
She wore those house dresses that were so common in the 60's - that zippered all the way up - from top to bottom - one bra strap was inevitably always hanging down one arm.
She wore ugly beat up white shoes in the summer and ugly beat up black shoes in the winter.
She had one purse and hated carrying it -  all I can ever remember seeing in it was a package of gum - and kleenex - I don't think she owned a wallet.
She rolled her long hair up in a coil and kept it there with bobby pins - wisps of hair were constantly falling around her mostly red flushed face.
She let the nail polish wear off her nails until there were just pin points of color left and one of her daughters would redo them for her.
Somehow this rough women raised the most feminine of daughters - LADIES - she would claim - with a hint of disdain and pride and admiration for her girls.
She had a story in her head - that began when she was 15 and continued till the day she died - the characters in her story grew and aged with her - it was fascinating - and I can clearly remember one of my Uncles telling her I was old enough to hear about these " characters ".  I considered it such a privilege the afternoon she spent revealing it to me.
Her kitchen was never empty - the screen door banged shut every 10 minutes - with neighbor's coming down and friends dropping by -
Her house was filled with laughter - ( and lots of fighting but mostly I remember the laughter )
There was always fresh laundry hanging on her clothes line -
There were always too many animals in the house - and too many kids -
They were dirt poor.
She was an extremely intelligent woman.
She also said things like - " worm sh*t " because as she explained to me " bull sh*t - was far too common     ( which to this day makes me want to double over laughing )
and her favorite expression in the winter was " it's colder than a witches t*t out there ............
She made my Mother visibly cringe.
My Mother would close the windows when Nanny Egan came to visit (Oh Mother - the neighbors - she would whisper ) ta hell with the neighbors Nanny Egan would bellow out as my Mother scurried to close the last one.
Her home was a constant mess - and the perfect house for a little girl to play hide and seek in because you could basically hide anywhere in the constant pile of clothes that adorned every room - and every surface.
My Mother would buy gifts and mark her name on them ( so that us kids would think she had bought us a special gift - something she really couldn't afford to do ) and she would always lean over and shout -
" let's see what I bought ya this year ya spoiled brat "
We giggled much of our childhood away around her -
She wore a scarf - tied under her chin if it was really cold.
Everyone loved Helen - and wanted to be around her - from the very young to the very old and all ages inbetween.
She was a tea totaller.
She called me Suzy-Q
She was my Mother's Mother.
I loved her.

They hated each other...............
Nana Sweatman thought Nanny Egan was " trashy "
Nanny Egan thought Nana Sweatman was a snob and a " fake "

Both were a little guilty of what the other thought.
Neither were the sum of their parts however - they were both - in their own ways - uniquely remarkable wonderful woman that shaped my early years...........
I can't imagine a childhood without their presence.

I am a product of both these ladies - without a doubt - the good and the bad -
A couple of weeks ago I opened the door to run out for my hair appointment and a cold blast hit me with a force.

And I smiled.
And then I giggled.
And then I laughed out loud..................
Because 2 thoughts simultaneously hit me.

Nana Sweatman - you'll be happy to know I have my hair done usually once a week
Nanny Egan - I swear to God - it was " colder than a witch's t*"

I miss you ladies - more than I ever thought I would and would give anything to be making you a cup of tea this afternoon.

( even if I had to close the windows Nanny Egan )


Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and input - I think I'm going with the induction stove after reading a few comments :)
I really do believe that I have the best followers in blogland - most definitely !!!
And can't wait to get back to visiting - this has really been too long now...................

More Demo's :)



  1. Nice memories of your grandmothers. I like that they were so different.

  2. Good Morning Suzan, How lovely to read about your grandmothers, Nanna Sweatman and Nanny Egan. They each sound so different, but individually such lovely ladies and Nanna Sweatman was certainly a lady of her time, when what people thought was so very important. I remember Sadie, my daughter's Nanna telling me, that even though they were poor when she first married, there was a certain standard that she had to keep. Ladies in her street judged each other by the standard of the front stone step and door knocker. Both had to be scrubbed and cleaned everyday and woe betide the lady who didn't, as she would be talked about by the other ladies in the street.
    You have such wonderful memories of both your grandmothers and I loved reading about them. Thank you for sharing your grandmothers with us all.
    Best Wishes

  3. You really could write a book about your grandmothers (and probably other related stories), Suzan. You make their character and personality come through. They definitely were two very different women. Nice to see the strange walls coming out in the hallway. Have a good weekend. Pam

  4. I really enjoyed reading such wonderful tributes to your grandmothers. They both sound like wonderful women to have had in your life.

  5. What a contrast! And what wonderful memories! Thank you for sharing.

  6. What a great post. What precious grandmothers.

  7. oh my gosh I loved this post!!!

  8. Such a wonderful post. So honest and raw, yet so well written. You are a woman of many talents.

  9. That is probably my most favourite of all your great blog posts. So well written, I could just picture everything you wrote about. Unfortunately I never met my mother's mother, she died of cancer just days after I was born. My father's mother I met only a couple times for a few hours at most, she lived in England. Wish I had the opportunity to know my grandmothers as you did yours.

  10. It is so fun to think back on where we come from and where they come from and basically how it all tangles together to make us a bit or more of who we are. Crazy and complicated. They sound like fascinating people. I have spent a great deal of time thinking about older people in our lives these days.
    Interesting post.

  11. Oh what a fabulous post Suzan! Love that you had two influential women in your life who were so different. They were both characters in their own way... that's for sure. I've never heard Nanny Egan's expression about the cold, but it's cold enough here right now to use it... and now I'll think of it every time I'm complaining. It's now permanently etched in my brain. Thanks so much for that. lol. I love it!

  12. What a sweet post. My grandmas were very different also. One spent like crazy (I also thought that she was rich (she wasn't) and the other would not put the ac on if it was under 85 out. They were different in so many other ways but they both were very amazing mothers and grandmothers and they got along so well! I miss them!

  13. I am just catching up on blogs. What with Thanksgiving and getting in a car accident, blogging took a back seat. And then I was sick all through the night. But, I knew reading your posts would make me laugh and feel better.

    I don't know if you have ever done major remodeling, but I hope you know that if you are told 2 weeks, it will be a month. If you are told 2 months, it will take 6 months. Have fun with floors, windows, counters, stairs . . .

  14. Wow! Moving right along, get the majority of the mess over before the Christmas crunch, you go girl. Love hearing about your Grandmas, just a hoot! By the way, love your window. You don't know how much I wish I was in your shoes now in the little cape we have an offer on. Subject to our's selling, which can't happen fast enough. Patty/BC

  15. What a wonderful post! I only knew one of my Grandmothers...and she was sort of a compilation of both of yours. She came over on a boat from there was a lot of "old country" in that woman. The rolled up stockings, and blue hair really got to me. Thanks for the "memories"! It's going to be interesting to follow your renovations....good luck! ;)

  16. I really enjoyed the stories about your grandmothers. What wonderful memories you have of both of them. I had two aunts, who were sisters, with very different personalities. One was a super neat freak, and her home looked spotless always. My other aunt was rather like a hillbilly in her behavior, they had tons of kids and mismatched clothes. They were quite poor and their house never seemed to be clean. I look back on both of them fondly, for different reasons. Reading your story reminded me of them, so thanks for sharing!

  17. Suzy-Q, I loved reading about your grandmothers and could visualize and feel their presences. I have been thinking a lot of both my grandmothers and the questions I wish I could ask them, however, that is a long lost opportunity. I also was blessed in many ways by each of them, and they were very different women. One was very progressive for a woman born before 1900 and the other was the quiet submissive loving type. I am more like the progressive grandmother and have lived an unconventional life following my heart wherever it has led me. We have been blessed by our ancestors. Peace and Love

  18. What a nice post to share, Suzan!! I'm just swinging over to say hello and I loved reading your post too. Happy renovating to you!! :)

  19. I loved this post grandparents are the best and its funny how we see them differently as adults. You'll love induction I'm getting one myself after my parents got one they're amazing.

  20. Oh what wonderful memories you have. I was just talking to my sister today about how different I am from my grandchildren's other grandmother. She is a school teacher and a very concrete thinker. I am the one who laughs inappropriately with them, but the two of us get along very well. So important for kids to have those different influences in their lives. xo Laura

  21. Hi Suzan!!!!!

    Great memories!!!!!

    My grandparents were all from Scotland and came over to Montreal in the twenties. My father was born in Glasgow and mom Montreal. We only really saw Granny, mom's mom. I loved her very much. She died at 64 yrs old. To me that was too young. I was only 15 and still miss her terribly. My grandmother on dad's side only had love for her daughter's daughter, Angel.

    I love hearing about peoples grandparents. Both grandfathers use to abuse my grandmothers. I promised myself that I was never going to marry a man who did this. Well, I did in my 1st marriage. Thankfully I only stayed a year and 10 months, but, the damage was done.

    But, from that time era was my great aunt Margaret from my mother's side. How I miss her and learned from her. She was a tiny mite, but, watch out!!!!! She was amazing!!

    Thank you my friend for sharing a bit of your family history!!!

    Have a great weekend Suzan!!!!!


  22. Two wonderful women for grandmothers sounds like heaven.

  23. This is a great post and I read every word. So nice to have memories. And so glad women today can be a little more free with who they are.

  24. Loved this post! My two grandma's were as different as night and day, too. Then again, I'm nothing like my grandkids other grandma's. The older boys call me Middleport grandma and all the little ones call me kitty grandma. But from 3yr. olds to 20 yr. olds, they all love to be here in this crazy (sometimes tidy) house.

  25. I love this post Suzan! Sounds like you have such fond memories of both. I hope when I have grandkids, that I will be as influential as these remarkable woman were to you! Hopefully remembered in a loving way the way my mom is by my kids! Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed this!

  26. A thoroughly enjoyable post Susan. How interesting your grandmothers sound and I love that you accepted and appreciated their individual traits.

  27. It was funny to read this post as my two grand-mothers were also very different from one another, much like yours.

  28. Great story! I want to be the crazy grandma. I wonder if I can make that happen?


  29. what will your grandchildren think of you, do you ever wonder about that? my kids are smaller, I still can't say how are they going to decribe me to their kids, and what will those kids think of me? modern grandma, crasy grandma... I am so curious

  30. This has made my day......what beautiful memories you have of two beautiful ladies in their own way! I smiled and laughed reading to the actually brought back many memories of my childhood grandparents.....but now I have several Aunts that have kept "life" interesting! It continues on.......Blessings to you and can't wait to continue seeing more of your renovations! Roxie

  31. loved the post...really enjoyed reading that!

  32. Oh Suzan, I loved the post. Your grandma's sound so wonderful. I am sure you have many lovely memories of the great times you had with them.
    I am so glad that you are going with the convection stove - soon that will be all they are making - so you will be ahead of the times.
    Can hardly wait to see your home all decked out for the holidays. Have a Happy Weekend.

  33. I just loved reading that story, it was touching and sweet and made me cry thinking of my Mum Mum..

  34. Suzan, I can only hope that some day after I'm gone someone remembers me with such a well written tribute. This is a true gift to your wonderful grandmothers.

  35. Hi, Suzan. A creative, lovely, thought-provoking, funny post. And to think that we could all be viewed through a lens similar to yours in years to come! :) ~Zuni

  36. Suzan this was so much fun to read! You had amazing grandmothers and I'm so glad you appreciated them! I hope Jacob remembers me as fondly! I am loving your progress and dreaming of the day I see sheet rock!!

  37. Wow. I read the post, because it was YOUR post. I enjoy renovation, furniture painting, etc...but I LOVED the Grandmother post! I read it this morning, but didn't have time to comment, but made a point of coming back to let you know how amazingly universal blogging women become. Thanks for taking me 'home'. Miss my Crazy Grandma!!! (I only knew one well).

  38. What a beautiful post!! I was very close to my grandma (my mother's mother) and I miss her dearly to this day. We made cookies together and we danced a lot. My grandparents went dancing every weekend...she let me dress up in her dancing outfits and she taught me all the old dances. Your post brought some wonderful memories back to me.

  39. Both your grandmothers sound like incredible women. You write about them in a beautiful story, what a lovely tribute to them.
    Mine were very much alike, but different at the same time...and like you, I loved and miss them terribly.
    Your home is starting to look fantastic!
    Debbie :)

  40. I felt like I was reading the start of a really good novel - The Nanas! They both sound like amazing women in their different ways, and I am sure you got only the very best traits from each of them! My two grandmothers were very different, too, although the contrast was not quite as strong as yours. It's fun seeing the progress in your new home as you go along. It seems like you are getting massive amounts of work done!


Due to a large amount of spam ( that I'm tired of going back to posts and deleting ) I'll be using comment moderation from now on !!!
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