Being like Nan

Being like Nan

I remember one trip to the mall with my grandmother and mother. As we walked down the aisle, a man sitting at a table said something that I’ll never forget. He simply pointed to us and said, “Mother, daughter, grandmother.” He then went back to eating his corndog.

Continuing with our walk, my mother and I looked at each other and shrugged. The statement was not confrontational, but it somehow seemed to have significance. Humorous, and yet serious at the same time.

Although we went about our day, I would not forget that moment. In my teenage mind, I wanted to think that I would somehow be different. However, I began to realize that day that I would be just like my grandmother and mother. I felt a connection to these two most important women in my life.

As I grew older, I would stop myself after doing or saying something that my mother would have said. “Those darn kids…” would often begin my thoughts as I walked around our apartment complex. My personality also seemed to mysteriously morph into my mother’s, with all of her many quirks. I wondered at the time if this legacy from my mother was truly beneficial as she could often be quite difficult.

Learning to live with my own qualities that were so familiar, I began to see further traits as I grew older. When my chin and cheeks softened, I saw my grandmother staring at me from the mirror. People had often told me that I looked like her, and if she was present, she would respond, “Poor dear.” Now I can truly see the resemblance as the lines form and changes come over my face.

Although I may look more and more like my grandmother each day, I wonder if my personality is like hers as well. She was small in stature but very strong spiritually. Nan had been the “glue” that held our family together and strengthened the bonds between us. Her legacy was one of quiet resilience and surviving hardship.

Now that I am middle aged, I think sometimes about that day when that man pointed out what seemed most obvious. These two women, my mother and grandmother, left me much to think about. While I can’t do much about my looks, I can follow their guidance when it comes to dealing with the problems that life brings.

Both lived through their own struggles, but I think that my grandmother perhaps left the bigger shoes to fill. Having gone through the Great Depression, war, and a 50-year marriage, she saw pretty much everything. Yet she remained dedicated to her family and her faith, quietly supporting those around her.

Can I be like Nan? I don’t know. I can only hope.

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