Nana’s are special. In my world ,.the true Nana is an Irish Grandmother. Not Gram…Nonie…grandma………the term is NANA. I had a Nana. No I change that….I had the BEST NANA…She was a direct Irish strand, with Skin as soft as cream , calves that had great muscle tone into her nineties and hair as white as snow…until she went to the "Beauty Parlor"….and had it done…blue. Why???……Who knows?
Lillian Cashin was born in 1894…she was the only 1800’s person I ever personally knew. That was before there were cars and planes and jets and space shuttles…and almost all of modern technology. Her life style was one of utmost simplicity …yet supplied with me as many lessons in life as any one I knew.
Unlike many elderly people, Nana was a big lady. Not heavy…….big. Tall. muscular, and impeccably healthy. Even her children were born at home…and she did not have reasons to go to a hospital …well into her 70’s. She did , however have challenges in her life. These never were noticed …because she never made a big deal out of them. For example….in her early 20’s she got rheumatic fever…….and exploded both ear drums, leaving her …..totally deaf. Oh yes …….she had also just gotten married to a Irish bloat, that was by no means a tea totler!!!!. She went ahead …gave birth to and raised with total class, three children (my mom was one of them). Her husband ended up being ….here there and every where…..and with her left behind …….He died at an early age. So there she was ,groping with informal lip reading skills…..and three children. Somehow..they made it. I know it was because of her epic strength and how she focused on life’s priorities and not the peripherals.
Finally in the 30’s or so….they invented hearing aides. But being stoned deaf, hers ended being something that looked like the first CD player with a cord as thick as a rope that hunk from her ear to the box snapped on to her undergarment. I know because when she hugged me tight I always had the hearing aide mashed against my face!!! I never realized her deafness unless I was being fresh ……like swearing around her when it was off and thinking it was funny that she could not hear me. That is until she turned and said……."don’t swear Mick" (remember. She could read lips)…..that used to give me the willies every time.
I never……….ever……..saw Nana in any thing other than a dress.....stockings……nice shoes………etc. I repeat never. She did not own slacks. None. She remained all lady …forever. Every day…all the lady stuff ..garters....stockings…clips etc…and iron the dress and so on. No matter how she felt…no matter what the weather….no matter what. Let me add to that the fact that she played catch with me with gloves and hardballs..threw the football…and any array of active events………all in a dress and pumps. The truth ..I swear.
Her simplicity and how she transferred that to life , is a goal of mine as I also age. She never worked when she was my nana……she never had a drivers license…..she never had formal schooling…she never smoked or drank….she never missed Sunday mass……..note the word never!!….She told me once, "sometimes when I go to confession, I just go to talk to the priest , because I have nothing to confess." How about that??????. I never saw her purposefully do wrong……..I guess I can say …I never saw her sin. I must say that I was alittle disappointed when she gave me underwear every Christmas…but she made up for it by making the best waffles on earth and awesome coconut meringue cookies!!
Do any of you remember what a rosary is????….and how to say it…and how long it takes ??. Every single week of her life she would say one entire rosary for each family member……all of them …every week. Her three children, who had 5 children each…who had 4 great grand children. All total…22 rosaries per week..and church…and confession. Sometimes after church I had to wait in the car to take her home…..She would insist on doing the stations of the cross before she would leave during certain religious holidays. When staying with us one time, My mom was gone and my dad was unable to take her to mass. At 84….she walked the mile to get there..in July. Needless to say……that was her last 2 miler. We always drove her after that.
Nana had her own apartment in Poughkeepsie New York until she was in her 80’s…Her entire existence was one of visiting her children and there kids for 3 weeks…stay home for a week and go to the next child’s home for the same pattern. She did not work…..she was a NANA…..THE NANA.!! I never wondered how she survived economically. I am sure that each of her children contributed to her life ..rent..food..etc. Her job was giving herself to our pocket of humanity…100%. She was a totally faithful lady with the purest understanding and adherence to RIGHT and WRONG. Essentially what we should all strive for.
As mentioned , her physical constitution was remarkable. I never saw her sick….or so it seemed. For example ..at 85 she was told that she needed a pace maker, but when discussed with her son etc, her age seemed alittle much for her body to take the operation or for her to appreciate for very long.. Convinced by all of us to please do the procedure…….they did………..she lived …full steam….until 94 years of age!!!
Our family had 4 Irish micks as sons and a poor , relentlessly teased sister. Behavior management was an ongoing issue ……..except when Nana watched us. We allowed/wanted her to control us. When holding our hand , she would slightly bend my little finger or give alittle pinch on that soft under arm skin if we didn’t Toe The Line. We didn’t mind…….she was our Nana. We obeyed her……..we wanted to obey her… and we all knew that if you did disobey her….god gave you double the punishment..cause she was a Nana!!!.
Nana passed away , as mentioned, at 94. I look at her picture often, but do not return to those times enough. Doing so in this forum, was long overdo and very reflective. Having lived her life solely for her family and God assured her an uninterrupted highway to heaven…..and sainthood in my mind.
My smile of reminiscence dropped to one of concern as a previously unattended mackerel chunk drew some attention. The result was this seasons first good fight and decent bass. A stretched 32" striper…The tug of war had shelved my nana thoughts, but I wanted them to return……..So I named the fish LILLIAN…..kissed her goodbye ..Knelt in the surf…and let her go….just like I did when NANA Lillian was released to heaven.
LILLIAN...that Pre- sun morning
Nite surfcasting allows you day dreams and time to relive, yourself!!!! Usually this nite fishing is Bait and Wait…….It can be Bait and Relate…..to who you are….how you got here…and the forces behind that journey. The beach at Night gives you the serenity and sanctity to RECALL YOUR LIFE. Sometimes I wonder….Do I fish for fish???? Or do I fish for answers, about all the things that clutter my mind. On your next cast, take time to reel yourself in!!!!. Catch what is good in you and keep it…………release the rest!!………Striper Mike…