Well, it turns out – doh! – this is not really a thing Christians do, observe –slash- celebrate the anniversary of a death.
Apparently, the church actually did something, unprompted, on her birthday, back in November. That, I guess, is the day they choose to observe, perhaps because it’s more upbeat than a death-anniversary. I believe the minister, ever tactful, mentioned that they don’t do death-anniversaries “as well as you [Jews] do.”
Anyway, they were a little bit mystified, but went along with the plan and even apparently sang “This Little Light of Mine” in her honour. And my set up and served hosted coffee time, which I guess is the Presbyterian equivalent of making kiddush.
I know this second-hand because I wasn’t there. Just like I wasn’t there while she was alive. And don’t I feel like a big fat hypocrite because the one time I was there was for her funeral, when I dragged my entire Jewish family in and even got YM to stand up on the bimah (or whatever they call it) to sing Mizmor L’David, the 23rd Psalm (The Lord is my Shepherd).
I was not good enough to her while she was alive. I was too busy, too shlepped-around from one grandparent to another. Perhaps because she was not technically a relative, or perhaps because she’d never have wanted to be a chore, Nanny was not on the every-Sunday visiting list. And because she was younger than my other grandparents, it never felt as urgent that we visit her: all the others, I figured, could die any minute.
Ironically, I think I still thought this in the back of my mind, even when she was in her 90s… “yup, still not as old as all the other (dead) grandparents.”
Plus, I was busy. Working, raising kids, staying home with kids, running around. There were always more important things to do.
So I was a lousy granddaughter, but I can still remember her and share the remembrances – such as they are, because my sisters’ recollections are far more vivid than mine – with my own children. I wish they’d had a Nanny, too, but of course, they did… just not for long enough.
Here’s her obituary. My mother wrote this, but I helped, a bit.
Nanny’s mother’s prayer, a memento handwritten by her mother which Nanny kept in a little frame to share with anyone who passed through her life. I don’t know who ended up getting the original in her mother’s writing.
My own writing about growing up with Nanny.
Lousy as I was, I still miss her.