Monday, December 7, 2009

For Nan, Ten Years Later

Where does the time go?

Today is tenth anniversary of my grandmother's passing. It's hard to believe ten years have come and gone since that day; it seems like only yesterday that we were together.

Roseine Troop was quite a lady. She was an independent working woman and a single mom in a time when neither identity was readily accepted by society. Nan, as my brother and I called her, worked at the Hamilton Watch Factory here in Lancaster (now the site of Clock Towers Apartments) for nearly 40 years until her retirement in 1981.

Born in 1916, she was a child of The Great Depression and so always respected the value of a dollar. While she always wanted the best for her family, she seldom if ever allowed herself extravagances. She watched a tiny black and white TV with no cable for as long as I can remember, and refused any suggestion of buying a color TV or having cable put in until around the time I went to college. Even then, her only concession was the color set. "I don't need cable, I don't really watch that much TV," she'd say, even though the television was on from the time she awoke until the time she went to bed. "I just have it on for company." The car she drove, a 1969 Chevy Nova, had no radio and no air conditioning - a car doesn't need those things to get you from point A to point B. She saw the world in a very utilitarian way.

For every one of her 83 years, she lived her life on her own terms, sometimes frustrating the rest of us. She insisted that she had never had a headache in her life, and that all she needed in her medicine cabinet was aspirin for when she was achy and peppermint for when her stomach was upset. When the doctors told her that she had had a heart attack, she simply chose not to believe them. "How do they know?" she'd ask. "I feel fine!" And if she ever had to wait in a line more than two people long, everyone would hear about it! "Oh, come on!" she'd sigh loudly, tapping her foot impatiently. When she passed, my mom, brother and I chuckled to think that there better not have been a line at Heaven's Gates, or St. Peter would have gotten an earful!

She loved to laugh and sing and play cards and do crossword puzzles (in ink!). She was extremely generous with those she loved, both family and friends; she was, however, a very private person. It was not often that she'd let someone new into her world, but once you were in, you were both genuinely loved and fiercely protected by her. And oh, could she cook! She made the most delicious potato soup, chicken pot pie, and oyster filling (not "stuffing," mind you - filling!), the likes of which I'll never taste again. Even when cooking wasn't involved, she had that special "grandmother's touch": her sandwiches were legendary, piled high with cold cuts, lettuce, onion, tomato. How is it that neither I nor anyone else can replicate her sandwiches, even using the same ingredients?

Ten years on, it's still hard to fathom that she's not here, although in many, many ways she is. She often shows up in dreams I have, singing one of her songs or playing a game of gin rummy with me. That she passed at this time of year adds a certain feeling to how a view the holidays, but it's not a sad feeling; I still laugh out loud thinking of some of her quirks, and I celebrate the life she led.

Merry Christmas, Nan. I miss you.

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