I called her Nanny or Nana. She was committed to her family, friends, community, and country. She introduced to me volunteerism, politics, Walter Cronkite, and Lawrence Welk. She encouraged my love of reading and nurtured me when I needed it. Nanny was a stabling factor in my life. Her teachings demonstrated what P.I.E.S. represents and graciously taught me many life lessons. Lessons given are worthy of sharing, so with a warm heart I share my nana’s lessons with you.
Nana’s Life Lessons
Respect Your Country
Red corn poppies, candy canes, Royal Neighbors of America, and political propaganda covered the dining room table and floor at Nana’s house on B Street in Livingston, Montana. At her insistence, I handed out red corn poppies to a passerby on Veteran’s Day; from her voice, I listened to the words of “In Flanders Field” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. And because the red poppies invaded my play area, her dining room, I listened intently to the words.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow Between the crosses row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
Believe in Your God
Just as she taught me the importance of honoring the veterans by handing out red poppies, she showed me the significance of the candy cane, which affirms the foundation of God’s promise.
The Candy Cane Legend
Look at the Candy Cane
What do you see?
Stripes that are shed for me
White is for my Savior
Who sinless and pure!
“J” is for Jesus my Lord, that’s for sure!
Turn it around
And a staff you will see
Jesus my shepherd
Was born for Me!
As with everything Nanny did, it had a deeper meaning, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the insurance she chose to sell came with a mission.
Choose Work with a Purpose
In 1968, she was appointed district deputy for Royal Neighbors of America, selling insurance for a fraternal life insurance society for men, women, and children from birth until age sixty-five. Royal Neighbors was important to Nanny. If she dropped by unexpectedly, it usually was to invite us to the annual Royal Neighbors of America banquet. Amazingly, everyone in the family honored her request and showed up. Prepared for snapshots, we dressed in our Sunday school clothes because with Nanny and Royal Neighbors came a shopping bag of film for photos. Most of us hated our pictures taken, but we smiled and obliged because it made her happy. Because Royal Neighbors of America was important to her, I was inducted into the society in a formal ceremony during my senior year in high school.
Always Be Well Groomed
Nana had a sense of style. She always dressed well. Her nails were manicured; her hair was styled; her shoes were shined; her makeup always looked fresh. She bought me my first pair of black patent shoes and my first Elizabeth Arden makeup kit.
Her love for socializing was something else that can’t be denied. She loved to dance and attended parties and dances until Papa Joe passed away. Because I knew how much she loved to dance on occasion, I would join them at the senior center and dance with Papa Joe as Nanny stood in the background and smiled.
Watch Your Weight and Eat Healthy
Good role models practice what they preach. I would rise to the sound of Doris Day singing on the radio, a bowl of cream of wheat or oatmeal, half of a grapefruit, a piece of toast, and a cup of tea with one lump of sugar and a teaspoon of cream. Snacks were limited, especially sweets. Outdoor exercise was mandatory, and if we couldn’t find something to do, she would come up with a chore that kept us busy.
Nanny was a smart woman. Smart women read. Nanny bought books for me. She even allowed me to lay under the covers and read Old Yeller, or my chosen novel, by flashlight. She encouraged my curiosity by allowing my older cousin, Don, to read to me from his high school text books while he babysat.
Watch the Evening News
The evening news with Walter Cronkite was taken seriously. We sat silently and watched together every night.
Charity is important. If you have no money or belongings, giving your time is just as important. Nanny demonstrated this daily. She volunteered for many service activities and often brought me with her.
Follow the Golden Rule
Nanny never said much but was my role model. She always treated people as she expected to be treated. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
Think about what your grandmother or grandmothers gave you. Remember it and pass it on. Do you make someone’s eyes light up? If so, who?
Today make an effort to share your lessons with others. This may require volunteering, tutoring, lecturing, or simply sharing time with a family member, friend, or stranger in need. Make some homemade chicken soup or your favorite soup, and drop it off for a friend if you want.