Saturday, August 06, 2005

My Grandmother died this past week. Well, technically she's not my grandmother, but she is definitely as close as it gets. Nanny, aka Gloria Hickman, was the adoptive mother of my brother's father, David. David died as a result of a car accident when my brother, Ross, was 14 months old.
My mother remarried and had two more children, but unlike many, who would have said "Ross is my grandson." Nanny and Papa Hap saw us all as grandchildren. They sent us all birthday money and graduation money. Papa Hap taught me to love nature, fishing, hunting, and hats. He taught me to use a fly rod, find Huckleberries in the mountains, and shoot a shotgun. Some of my fondest childhood memories include Papa Hap, his old truck, a jug of spring water fresh out of the rock, sardines, crackers, cake, and a hot summer day in the Alabama mountains.
Likewise, Nanny helped me learn to sew and she introduced me to coffee at age twelve. I remember breakfast at the kitchen table before Papa Hap and I left. Nanny would cook and when it was all ready, we'd sit and she would read a daily devotional and then pray to start our day off properly. Then, Nanny was off to work and Papa Hap and I would get lunch together (see above) and head for the mountains to pick berries, track turkey, or fish. When we got home, Nanny was there making dinner. I can still remember the smells and layout of that house, and Nanny hasn't lived there for 17 years.
After Papa Hap passed away (the most difficult death I've yet to deal with) Nanny moved to Bastrop, Texas next door to her daughter. Thanksgiving at Nanny's became traditional. More food, football and fun than anyone should be allowed to have. When I got married, Nanny was there and encouraging me, telling me how well I had done picking a wife. When we had our children Nanny was there. When I finally graduated from college in 2004 (I started in 1989) Nanny was there to tell me how proud she was of the man I had become, and to wish me the best for the future. Even last week, as I visited her for the last time to say goodbye and tell her I loved and appreciated her, Nanny was there telling me how much she loved me and my family, how proud she was, and how beautiful my girls are. Nanny was an incredible woman upto her final days.
I could ramble on regaling you with stories of her career as a teacher at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, or with the tales she told of her exploits with Papa Hap, but that is more than I want to share. So i'll end this by saying that I'm going to miss my Nanny very much. She was a remarkable person and the picture of a southern lady. Where ever she is in heaven, people are being blessed.