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
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
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.
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*t.................today.............."
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 :)