Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Hundred Years

My Nana, Margaret Little, is one hundred years old today.
In recognition of this milestone, she has received accolades from President and Mrs. Obama, The Pope, Cardinal O'Malley and Representative Delahunt. Today is also "Margaret Little Day" in Quincy, MA.
Nana may or may not know these facts but her family does.
We celebrated at the nursing home on Sunday, bringing together cousins, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The guest of honor smiled infrequently, scowled at my aunt's insistence on feeding her cake and not so subtly stuck her finger up her nose, to great guffaws of laughter from Jenna.
In fact, laughter fills my memories of Nana.
Most of the family holidays were spent on Watson Road with Nana and Grampa. Grampa was taken from us too soon (in 1976) yet Nana shouldered on. Our family Christmas party always included a "gift box", in which the Master of Ceremonies would dispense presents to each guest and then mercilessly tease them about it. I was the first Master of Ceremonies and that never changed. For some reason my family enjoyed my twisted sense of humor and double-entendre laden quips. This part was easy, you see, because many of our gifts were bought at Spencer Gifts. Nothing spelled out "hilarity" quite like watching an elderly relative open a gift from Spencers.
My favorite present may have been the time that Nana opened a bottle of heated massage oil - and she didn't know what it was used for. Even funnier was Uncle Tommy's repeated attempts to trade his present - or any present - for the massage oil.
Oh! I also enjoyed when Uncle Tommy's sister, Barbara (the nun) got a box of condoms - ribbed for her pleasure.
After gifts were given out my cousin Scott would bring out his keyboard and lead the family in Christmas Carols. Nana nearly choked on her egg-nog the first time she heard Scott and I sing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" but she asked us to sing it again year after year.
Laughter wasn't relegated to just the holidays.
I remember having dinner at Nana's house sometime in 1978. Mom, my siblings and I just finished the main course, With dishes in the sink Nana asked if we wanted dessert. My brother Mark (who was nine) asked "What's for dessert?"
"I have cookies for dessert," Nana said.
"Hmmm...what kind of cookies?"
"Well, I have - what do you mean 'What kind of cookies?'" Nana sputtered, as we laughed and laughed. "They're cookies, for chrissakes!"
"I know, but what kind of cookies are they?"
"Caca-looley Cookies - that's what type they are! You'll eat 'em and like 'em!"
And he did.
Forevermore, oatmeal raisin cookies in my family have been known as "Caca-looley Cookies."
Nana has seen much in her one hundred trips around the sun. She has seen the science-fiction of her youth become the realities of day-to-day life. She raised her siblings and then married and raised her own family, which now consists of three daughters, six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. She spent forty years with Andy Little before being widowed. She has buried two daughters, numerous family members and even a dog or two. Through it all, Nana always found time to laugh. In doing so, her family laughed with her.
Today, I remember the laughter.
Happy Birthday, Nana.


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

Beautiful post, friend. I actually pictured your Nana, sitting in a wheel chair with a shawl draped over her lap, rolling her eyes at her daughter as she refused to eat birthday cake. Funny you should mention Spencer gifts... I was in one two days ago for the first time in probably 25 years...may I just say, I have either gotten much older, or the "joke" gifts have morphed into something that would even make Jenna Jamison blush. I couldn't usher my stepdaughter out of there fast enough...she did warn me.

2:19 PM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Cynthia said...

So, ribald runs in the family, does it?

Wonderfully written post, Andy.

2:54 PM, June 16, 2010  

Post a Comment

<< Home