Posts Tagged ‘Nana’

I found a paperweight yesterday that my Nana had given to me about thirty-five years ago.

Too-many years earlier, it sat on her desk when she worked at the Department of Something-or-Other. I should have paid more attention to what department it was. I vaguely remember her pointing out the building to me whenever we drove past it.

I put Nana’s paperweight on my desk next to another paperweight. The other paperweight is clear and has an owl inside of it. It’s not a real owl because that would be really freaky and probably illegal. I wouldn’t even like owls except that my mom collected them when she was alive (not to be confused with what she is collecting while she is dead).

I’m not even sure what a paperweight is meant to do. Unless you have an outdoor office, I doubt the papers need to be weighted down.

For me, they are a constant reminder of the two women that had the most impact on my formative years. Come to think of it, they had quite an impact on me as an adult right up until the day that each of them left.

Maybe paperweights were invented to help with keeping some of our most precious memories in place.

As the years pile up, I can use all the help that I can get.


Here is an e-mail that the 23 year-old girl sent to me today… (with a few notes from the editor).

I like reading the stories about Nana and Grandpa. I remember their apartment. Nana would sit against one side of the couch with her legs up and she would beg Jay (THE 25 YEAR-OLD) and I to play with her hair… she would even bribe us with a dollar to do it. And I remember her old lady arms, the flab hung down and Jay and I would push it back and forth… we called it “basketball” (WE CALLED THEM NANA ARMS). And the drawer… we were allowed to choose something out of the “junk drawer” when we were good. I don’t remember much of what was in there, except for the toothbrushes that had a naked man on one and a naked lady on the other (NANA AND GRANDPA WERE CLOSET PORN ADDICTS). We weren’t allowed to have those. And I remember sitting on her living room floor, and under the television was a cabinet where she had a bucket of monkeys game that Jay and I would play. That’s really all I remember of her.

I’m also learning from your blog… I can’t figure out who Grandma Madeline is? Is that Grandpa’s (my father’s) mom? (DUH… IT’S NOT LIKE I NEVER MENTIONED HER BEFORE… WHO DID YOU THINK THE OTHER OLD LADY IS IN YOUR MOM’S AND MY WEDDING PICTURES?) She must have died before I was born because I don’t remember her at all. But I will say that Madeline is Matt’s (HER FIANCE) favorite girl’s name, that’s what he wants to name our daughter. (NO SHE IS NOT PREGNANT.)
And other coincidences…
I also had a meeting at Panera in Bristol on Friday with a photographer at 6:30pm… (I HOPE HE PAID FOR YOUR DIET PEPSI… OH AND WHEN YOU MEET WITH THE DJ I NEED TO BE THERE TOO… I HAVE A FEW ITEMS I NEED TO ADDRESS) and I ran into my mom and Nellie while I was there! And I saw Kristi, Lori, and Aunt Lorraine at the Mum Parade… Kristi said she found out I was engaged from reading the blog.

Hal and Adele, Part 3

Posted: September 26, 2008 in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Hal and Adele

Nana always said that I was so good as a little boy that she’d make me cry on purpose just because I hardly ever did. She always said I was the most gorgeous little boy anywhere and that nothing would ever bother me (wow has a lot changed). She’d say that I made her and Grandpa so happy and that nobody could ever take THAT away from them.

My favorite thing that Nana would do happened whenever she asked me for my hand. Nana and I would take the bus to downtown Hartford on Saturdays and walk from Constitution Plaza to G. Fox. Nana would say, “Ronnie, give me your hand.” And I would try and hold it. And her fingers would reach for the inside of my palm and wiggle so that I could not grab on to it. And she would repeat, “Ronnie, give me your hand.” I’d always say, “Nana!” And I would try to hold her hand again, only to have her wiggling fingers gently push my hand away. Again she would say, “Ron-nie, give me your hand!” And I’d giggle even louder, “Nana!” This would continue until she’d finally let my hand rest inside of her soft old lady hand.

My other Grandma worked in the G. Fox building. I will never ever forget the days that we’d take the elevator up to the fifth (or was it the ninth) floor. There would be a door leading into a room where rows of women sat in front of typewriters. Nana would have me sneak over to where Grandma sat and surprise her by giving her a big hug. Sometimes, just before my arms would wrap around her, I’d hear her coworkers yell, “Madeline, it’s Ronnie!” I will never forget the huge smile on both of my grandmother’s faces.

There was a restaurant on one of the floors in G. Fox that was kind of on a balcony. It was enclosed by glass (as I remember) so that you could see into it from the floor of the store. There were no chairs, just counters and high tables that you would stand at as you ate. The hot dog (or as Nana called it, a frankfurter) was the only thing that I ever ate in the clear restaurant.

G. Fox is where I discovered escalators and rotating doors. It’s where I ate ice cream while Nana had her hair done. Somewhere in that building, in its reconstructed halls, there is still the joy, the wonder, and a hundred splendid memories of a little boy.

Hal and Adele, Part 2

Posted: September 25, 2008 in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Hal and Adele

So Nana and Grandpa decided to take my sister (who was under 10 at the time) to see a cute Disney movie called Animal House. They spent most of the movie covering her eyes and laughing their heads off.

Grandpa was a bowler. Nana was a knitter. Much of our weekends were spent at the bowling ally watching Nana create afghans. I hated bowling. I still do. Grandpa tried to turn me into Earl Anthony but it didn’t interest me in the least. Bowling isn’t a sport, it’s a big video game.

Grandpa played pool at the bowling ally when he wasn’t bowling. He tried to teach me that too. He had no patience at all. I also ended up hating pool.

I’m not sure what I did at the bowling ally for all of those hours. Nana knew every single person there. If she didn’t know you already, she was your best friend by the end of the tenth frame. Everybody loved Nana. I’ve never met a greater conversationalist and I know I never will. So I spent a lot of time meeting people and being told how cute I was and that I was being a good boy.

Grandpa was a salesman and Nana went everywhere with him. I spent many Mondays and Fridays on the road with them. I remember the games that we’d play in the car. We’d name a geographical location, like Connecticut, and the next person would have to come up with one that began with the letter that the previous name ended with.

We’d always finish the day by eating out at Mr. Steak or some other fancy place. When the waitress brought the bill to Grandpa, he’d point to Nana and say, “Give the bill to my mother.”

Nana would collect things from restaurants, especially the little plastic jelly containers. She’d dump them and whatever else she could, including packets of artificial sweetener into her pocketbook. She’d have little containers and take whatever else she could… even at buffets. We would leave their house with plastic bags full of jellies.

She also did something that, when I look back at it, was really unique and clever. She collected the place-mats from every single place that they ate at. If she couldn’t keep hers clean during dinner, she’d ask for a clean one. She would give them to me every single time I saw her. It was a fantastic idea especially back then when each restaurant had their name and other information on them. I regret that I didn’t keep them. I can remember the day I got rid of them as a teen.


Hal and Adele, Part 1

Posted: September 25, 2008 in Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah, Hal and Adele

I spent more than half of my weekends at Nana and Grandpa’s house as a child. I was the first grandchild on both sides of the family and of course the favorite even after the rest of them came along.

They were Jewish which meant that my mom was Jewish which means that according to the Jewish faith, I am also Jewish. I was raised a Catholic. As a kid I was in a Synagogue twice: once to play bingo and the other time for my cousin’s Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (held together). The only thing I remember is reading backwards for three and half hours and being able to eat as much lox as I wanted to. I also remember my cousins leaving with enough money to afford a couple of small homes.

So I was raised on cream cheese, bagels, and lox, matzos with butter, and kugel or koogle (as I’ve seen it spelled). Grandpa also ate gefilte fish which came in a jar. I can remember Nana (in her NY/Jewish accent) saying, “Ronnie, can you get Grandpa the gafelta fish?”

Grandpa was a nervous type of guy. He especially could not stand it when a person made noise while eating. He’d say, “What’s all that music you’re making over there? Stop the racket!”

Matzo is crunchy. You can’t eat it quietly. Nana used to take me outside to eat mine. My sister once told me that she would suck hers while it was in her mouth until it was soft. Soft matzos don’t make noise but she was risking the chance that some sort of sucking sound would reach Grandpa’s ears.


Happy Birthday

Posted: September 17, 2008 in My Mom

My mom would have been 62 years-old today. She would still be here if she hadn’t smoked for most of her life. Well that’s not totally true. She could have also died by now from a number of other causes. But for the purposes of this tribute, we’ll blame tobacco.

Mom had me when she was 16. Years later we figured out that she had lied about her wedding date so that it wouldn’t look like her and Dad did things in the wrong order. She became a grandmother at 36 when I did those same things in the same order.

I never wanted her to smoke. I used to hide her cigarettes. My grandfather, Hal Kadish, hated that she smoked. Mom tried to hide it from him. I didn’t speak very clearly as a child (some would say I still don’t) and when I got mad at her I’d threaten her with, “I tell Ha you moke tiggywets.”

Mom would answer with, “Go right ahead, he’s not going to understand you anyway.” She was right.

My sister remembers, “It was always fun when Nana and Grandpa would make a surprise visit when we were young, we’d all run around the house moving ashtrays and hiding them, like they couldn’t smell the smoke all over the furniture and curtains!”

My sister also remembers when, “Mom sent us all to Massachusetts to learn about the birds and bees from Auntie, she sent the book and all!”

By the time Mom was diagnosed with cancer I was living back at home. Nana lived down the street and was always at our house. My favorite story of all is one that I witnessed but I’ll let you read it in my sister’s words. “When mom was on chemo she was cranky and needy and kept asking me for things, her 20th request that day was for Frosted Flakes, so I gave it to her and she looked up at me with big eyes and said there was too much milk, so I picked the bowl up and drank half of the milk and handed it back. Nana almost rolled out of her chair!”

My brother had the weaker stomach out of the three of us. My sister was accustomed by now to cleaning up puke and I had seen it all in the Group Home that I was working in. When Mom’s hair started coming out, it sort of freaked him out. So my sister carefully removed her hair and I put it into a bag and then placed the bag near my brother’s pillow on his bed. He had no idea what was in the bag as he opened it. He didn’t think it was funny at all but I still can’t stop laughing about it.

When she was sick, with the cancer, and out of work, she’d be afraid to go to lunch and run into work people because they would think she looked too good and that she was feeling well.

Being the oldest of Mom’s children, I had her longest which meant that she was there for my first wedding and my first three children.

She collected owls. We had owls everywhere in the house. When she died we let some friends and family take an owl home with them. I kept several of them. One of them is hanging in my hallway. When I see owls anywhere, they make me smile. I bought an owl paperweight on the Cape one year and keep it on my desk. I had an owl envelope opener that disappeared from my desk one day. I’m thinking someone broke it and discarded the evidence. I have a pretty good idea who the culprit is.

Mom used to go to concerts with us. She loved Dennis DeYoung and Styx as well as Phil Colllins and Genesis. At one concert she couldn’t see because someone was leaning up against the railing in front of her. He left after she yelled, “Get the f**K out of the way!”

I love music because of Mom. It was always on in the house and the car. She turned me on to Barry Manilow, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Johnny Mathis, and so many others in the Seventies. I still listen to all of them. I remember her singing Dr. Hook’s When Your Body’s Had Enough of Me and a rather obscure hit, Roger Whittaker’s The Last Farewell.

I don’t know where to stop. My brain is spitting out memories much quicker than I can type.

I’ll wait until the day she died in June to share the eulogy that my brother and I wrote and I read at her funeral.

I haven’t visited her grave in a couple of years for two reasons. One is because she always said not to bother because that’s not where she was. The other is because it is in a rough section in Hartford. People use the road through it as a shortcut to the other side of their neighborhood. The last time I visited it, her stone was pulled out of the ground and lay about twenty yards away. There were deep tire tracks in the mud. Someone had become stuck and attached a chain to her headstone to pull their car out of the muck.

One memory that I can call my very own, happened every Monday night during the football season. My dad bowled that night and Mom would let me stay up to watch the first half of Monday Night Football. I would bring down a shoebox of little cardboard helmets that I had cut out. And throughout the game I’d test her and ask her to name the team that each helmet belonged to. I was so proud when she’d get one right.

Didn’t I just say that I don’t know where to stop? I think now is a good time. I’ll post this now before I go to bed. Happy Birthday Mom. I love you. I miss you so much.