Friday, March 18, 2011

Megan, Mom, Nain, SupaNain, Trouble....

Megans #1 & #3 - At 90, still beautiful.
I know I already posted today, but I did not want to let a whole lot of time pass before I was able to wax poetic and get all emotional about my grandmother turning NINETY. NINE -OH. Ninety. If you've read here before, you probably know that my grandmother has had a downward spiral in the last year or so. Each member of our family has his or her own feelings about what is happening to her... I guess some of it is inevitable. Just part of aging. It's been hard for me to see her deteriorate. She used to be so full of spit and a bit of vinegar, definitely had some stories to tell. She's been through so much in her life, and we've always said we should write her stories down so they are not forgotten. I'd love to do a bit of that here, and if anyone else would like to leave a story or two she told you in the comments, that would be wonderful. Then we would have them, we would have a record.
I am having a hard time remembering the things she talked about, but I remember some of the things she lived through. Her parents were from Wales, they immigrated to this country a few years or so before she was born. She had four big brothers, two born in Wales. Her parents didn't speak English very well. She never spoke Welsh, but could understand it when it was spoken to her. She grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania during the Great Depression. Some of her brothers and her husband fought in WWII. My grandfather (Pop Pop) was among the US Army personnel that liberated Dachau, though he didn't like to talk about it, he did tell my brother and I some of the things he had seen there. After the Army, my grandfather was in the National Guard for 20 years, retiring a Lieutenant  Colonel, so they were a military family and Nain raised my mom alone for the first year of her life.

Both of her sons were in the Army during the Vietnam War. My Uncle Donny was a paratrooper, and was awarded several medals, including a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart with Clusters. He was released from the Army with Commendations for his bravery. Her other son, Jeff, was in Thailand for much of the war, working as a code translator for the Army. My grandmother had to have had untold stores of strength to get through both sons being oversees, but much worse was to come.

In 1979, my Uncle Donny was killed in an accident. He was only 31 years old. In later years she would survive the deaths of all her brothers, their wives who were her best friends, and her husband. She had buried one son, and the other just drifted away. We haven't heard from him in almost 15 years. I know she carried that pain with her. Through the years, all of her friends passed away, one by one. I think she is the last one of her generation in our family.

Even after Pop-Pop died, she was very independent. She survived breast cancer, but only after having a double mastectomy. She eventually moved from PA to be closer to my mom and dad, but for years she made the 7 hour drive all by herself to come for visits. I know it had to be hard for her to leave Pennsylvania, and all that was comfortable and familiar.

Ninety years can hold an awful lot of life, can't it? So, we gathered. We celebrated. And, for the gazillionth time in a week, we ate cake.

We piled all the kids; big, medium and small, into an activities room at Nain's nursing home. Four generations, all starting with this one tiny woman. She LOVED it! She always loves being the Belle of the Ball, and this birthday was no different. She loved being sung to. She loved the presents, she loved the kids running around like maniacs, having been fed cake and no supper, yet. She had some rare moments of clarity. She seems to always know my mom, and Dani's little Squishy, but she told me to go get Aunt Sadie, who's been dead for 60 years, a piece of cake. I, of course, obliged. We told her how old she was and she thought she must be much older than merely ninety. A minute later she was protesting that she was only 17. (She was hit by a car at 17, and this age and event seems to stick in her head more than most.)

Overall, I think she had a good time. She wasn't ready to quit partying when a nurse came to get her!  We tried, rather unsuccessfully to get a photo with Nain (or SupaNain, as all the great grands call her) and all the great grand children, but it wasn't to be. Meg had class, and a couple of them were rather uncooperative.
Amy, Pete and Nain
SupaNain and Baby Spencer

Nain, my mom and dad, Stacy, Amy, and babies

Kakers and Noodle - why do our nicknames so often revolve around food?

Biz and Wish

Well, we tried!
Happy Birthday, Nain. From you, all of this has come. You are the first of the Megan's, mother of three, grandmother of seven, great grandmother of at least 24! Quite a legacy, #1. Quite a legacy, indeed. I love you.


  1. What a great party, my nan is the same age, I think her marbles may be starting to leave but she is independant but so far away we barely see her. There isn't much family still around so we wouldn't be able to do a big party like that. Treasure the moment you have left with her which I'm sure you do anyway. Best wishes

  2. Your Nain sounds like a strong woman! Thanks for honoring your family's matriarch in this way. Cute pictures, too!

  3. Anonymous - It's sad that your nan is so far away from you. That's one of the reasons Nain moved out here, she was the only one left in PA. We were glad to have her where we could keep an eye on her! And yes, we do treasure the time we have with her. This deterioration has created moments we never thought we would have with her - it's heart breaking and lovely at the same time.

    Chris - yes, she is very brave and strong, she's never been allowed to be anything else. I don't think I understood that until recently. I hope that somewhere in there, she knows how much we all love her.

  4. Happy Birthday Aunt Megan,
    We remember celebrating Aunt Megan's 80th birthday, I believe, here in Pennsylvania when your mother hosted a party for all the family here. I can't believe that time has flown so fast. I remember when all of you grandkids were young and how much she loved when you visited or she visited you. She was so proud of all of you. We saw her and Uncle Don quite often at Tom's parents house. I remember my kids sitting on Uncle Don's lap and visiting with him. My girls always thought that Aunt Megan was the coolest, and still do to this day.
    Aunt Megan and Tom's mother Louise would get together and watch Penn State or golf on television and have a light dinner while doing so. They also had many golf outings to Myrtle Beach and Florida with their group. We sure do miss them all. What good memories. I'm glad that you are still enjoying her and that she had such a good time on her 90th birthday.

  5. Hi Laurie! Thanks so much for writing some of your memories of Nain - I know she enjoyed your girls, too, because she used to mention them all the time. I know that Nain and Aunt Weezie used to have so much fun together - Nain really loved her.
    Thanks again for posting some memories, I am sure my mom will love reading them!Blessings, Megan


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