Long Shanks Family Corner

During our fine, family-filled New Year’s party in the land of the sun, various resolutions were mentioned. Amid the applaudable ones were Jeeves’ “Make money,” and Aunt Madam’s “Be kinder.” The man that trumped them all, however, was young Prince Hal who, taking the cue from his princess sister twirling around the room, decreed:

“Dance more.”

Follow the future generation. They remind us of the fun and joy in life. Thank goodness for them.

Happy New Year.


Witty and wise to the end, dear Nanny-O recently went to join her loved ones in the Spirit World. To honor Nanny-O at her funeral, Mama K and her sisters set up a beautiful display of family photos, artifacts, and writings. Also, Mama K created a beautiful video full of images of Nanny-O, accompanied by “If My Love Had Wings,” sung by Nanny-O herself recorded when she was in her sixties. Her amazingly lovely soprano voice was still clear and reached all the high notes, even at that age.

Dear Nanny-O taught us to play to win, and play fair. However, we also learned not to hold a grudge when others win. After all, it’s more fun to play with someone who is skilled at the game and offers a challenge. However, when losing a game on the day of your birth, it’s acceptable to express your dismay at the winner’s seeming impudence by declaring with a pout, “But it’s my birthday!”

Thanks to dear Nanny-O, I learned that age is nothing when it comes to laughing at a deserving joke or groaning at a deserving pun. By dressing up in a costume to join the party, Nanny-O proved that at any age, a person should still occasionally be silly and have fun. And where she may have grumbled about getting her picture taken, she is smiling in every picture, especially surrounded by those she loved.

Nanny-O proved that words are wonderful at any age in your life. I remember her describing the moment she realized she could read by herself, and that it was like magic how the words made sense to her. During one of my first visits to her home, I was excited to see her reach for her well-worn dictionary to look up a word der Meister had used in their conversation. l realized by her movements, the placement of the book, and it’s worn cover that this was a natural act, and that her dictionary and the words within it were like old and new friends. She loved words, loved learning new ones, and used all of them as they were meant to be.

At every family gathering with Nanny-O there was singing. Der Meister would pick up the guitar or someone would sit down at the piano and everyone would sing. How appropriate and touching that out last visit with her included music, and how fitting that at her funeral, we gathered around her and sang for her.

Everyone can recall her love of avocados, and salad isn’t salad without her toasted sesame seed topping. Those lucky enough to hear it will never forget her reading of “Lil Ret Rotten Hut.” Birthday parties won’t quite be the same without Nanny-O. I’ll miss hearing, “Surprise surprise!” as she smiles and gives the lucky “dearie” a birthday card with a thoughtful Nanny-O message written just for them. Her family letter messages in which she shared her testimony, expressing her love of the gospel and our brethren, uplifted and strengthened our own faith.

Nanny-O was proud of us. All grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and any spouse that joined the family became one of her “dearies,” and she would keep track of our lives and take pleasure in all of our successes. We felt Nanny-O’s love and concern for each of us, whether she was attending our wedding or college graduation, laughing at her great-grandchildren’s silly teapot skit, sharing a story about her husband, supporting the rock career of a grandchild, or placing complete and pure trust in her daughter as caregiver. She may have wondered about how some of us were trotting along in life and just what we may have been thinking along the way, but by her conversations and actions, we knew Nanny-O loved and supported all of us.

We will miss our dear Nanny-O. But how lucky to have our lives blessed by such a fine, exemplary lady.

Lookie lookie what we got!

Smiles galore!

(*title in homage to original Tin Grin, Dr. Silcox)

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