I Smell Like My Grandmother

I was sitting on the couch next to @archietheboy when he farted.  His farts come from a place inside his body where old rubber bones and balls go to die.  I thrust my nose into my shirt to avoid the stench and I was hit with another kind of smell.

Nana Frances, is that you?

Visiting Nana Frances, who is my Dad’s mother, was always fun.  She was an artist, painting portraits and houses and horses and dogs on placemats, of all things.  Commissioned from the mysterious “Mrs. Lowenstein”, she would be given a picture that she would have to recreate several times to make a complete set of placements.  Sometimes I helped her cut the placements out, scalloping the edges with my small scissor.  I loved watching her paint and when I was old enough, she taught me how to draw- quick and easy steps to make vases and how to shade it.

Artistic talent runs in my family- my dad is an artist, I can create and draw stuff when necessary and Zombiegirl inherited her talent from my lineage and from her dad.  I was always impressed with Nana’s talent mostly because she painted in OILS.  Those were (and still are) such a mystery to me that my many tubes of oils I’ve acquired over the years have dried up because I couldn’t bring myself to experiment with them.  But Nana painted paintings and placemats with oils and drew pictures with charcoal and watercolors.  And they were all good.

Except for that damn clown.  That’s a story for another time.

Yeah, when I was younger and my Nana was the same age I am now (mind: blown) I loved her and looked up to her and loved visiting with her and my Grandpa.  It wasn’t until my pre-teen years that I started noticing that she didn’t exactly love me back as much.

My dad has a sister, who has two kids, the oldest the same age as my brother and the younger two years younger than that.  I guess because my Aunt was the daughter (the baby) it was only natural that her kids would be the favorites.  We lived in the same neighborhood as Nana and Pop-pop-turned-Grandpa (again, another day) we saw them often, going to their house for Trick-or-Treat, visiting for birthdays and other minor holidays.  The cousins lived further out on the island and didn’t see them as often, but damn, they were brought up every time we saw Nana.  We were told of accomplishment, big or small, my cousins made.  They sneezed, we heard about it.  They farted, my Nana told us.  When we got together at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we already knew all the news in that household.  And if it was more recent, Nana made sure we knew about it- telling us in front of the cousins what they had done.

It was all very uncomfortable.  For everyone.

I put up with it for years, until I was about 14 and feeling sassy one day, I asked Nana if she told our cousins all about what we were doing.  I know my mom talked to her almost every day and filled her in on news of her other grand kids, did she talk about us to them?

-No, what are you talking about?

-You are always telling us about what our cousins are doing.  Do you talk about me and Robbie to them?

-No.  I don’t do that.  I don’t talk about them to you.

-Yes you do.  A LOT.

-Well, I talk about you to them too.

I found out at the next holiday that she never did.  Something big that I did (First class Girl Scout?) was not relayed to the family- they were surprised when my mom announced it during dinner.  Maybe they were told and they didn’t remember, it’s possible.  But I remember that this was the second time my grandparents betrayed me.  And it hurt.

Over the years, I realized that my Nana wasn’t really a nice person.  I feel like she didn’t care for my mom and as an extension, me and my brother.  My Aunt fueled the fire (they would point out dirty spots in my mom’s kitchen, or catch each other’s eye when my mom said something at the dinner table).  I noticed and I was heartbroken over it. It wasn’t until after she died that we found out that it was always her that wanted to leave (she blamed Grandpa) or that it was her that said hurtful things, not Grandpa.  Nana blamed Grandpa for such much when they were alive.  Poor Grandpa. And poor Nana.  I feel sorry for her as an adult.

I digress, as usual.

Sitting next to Nana, I knew her smell.  It definitely wasn’t a sweet perfume, and it wasn’t the tangy oils she painted with.  It was her own smell and you would get hit with it when she pulled you into a hug.  I know now it was body odor- not a chicken-soup kind of BO that you get a whiff of on the subway- but an underarm/breast/fat sweat that a body gets when they’re going through the changes.  I got a whiff of Nana when I pulled my sweater up over my nose.  My deodorant obviously isn’t working if I’m channeling my grandmother in my pits.

I’m going shopping later for a heavy duty deodorant and powder so that my grand kids don’t tell me I stink.