I woke up at 9:39 this morning, well rested and ready to roll out of bed. I had read until 12:30 a.m. A book called Writers and Lovers, which I have to admit I am enjoying. I read every night in bed and go through a lot of books. I tend to be picky about what I read, and I tend to read and support Canadian authors. But like I said, I go through a lot of books and the library offerings don’t match my tastes well. I read on my iPad, not wanting to bring any more actual books into my house and knowing from experience that authors get paid a higher percentage of the selling price of a digital book. There were a lot of digital books on sale after Christmas. I browsed through them looking for some that peaked my interest and ended up downloading four, including one Canadian one. I am already on the third book. I have gotten into the habit of reading later and later.
It was a blustery morning, cold with winds blowing up the lake. I lay there for a moment listening to the wind cause the flaps of dryer vent to flutter. Something that sounds a bit like a motorcycle revving. It has been windy off and on (mostly on) for a month. Days like this take me back to my childhood. My mother worked shifts at a time when daycare did not exist. In order to have childcare when she was not at home, she hired live-in help, often unwed mothers that turned our eight-hundred-square-foot bungalow that housed seven into one that housed nine. There were many live-ins over the years but the one I remember most is Nan.
Three-percent grandmother, forty-percent security guard, and fifty-seven-percent drill sergeant, she was a force to be reckoned with. She liked to yell and call us stupid whenever my parents weren’t home. Her real name was Christine Walkden, but we always called her Nan. A hefty Scottish woman with hair like steel wool, somewhere between the ages of fifty and seventy. I couldn’t really tell. Her entire wardrobe consisted of dresses and cardigans in pastel shades and orthopedic stockings, sometimes topped with an elastic tenser bandage around her right leg and white ankle socks. The only variation in her attire was the brooch fastened to the front of her unbuttoned sweater.
I was lucky. She took a liking to me, probably because I was quiet back then and not confrontational like my oldest brother and younger sister. She made their lives difficult. My status granted me favors and treats. Ma’am had a secret and I was her accomplice. She had a sweet tooth and would send me to Murphy’s store to buy, not one or two, but an entire box of twenty-four Coffee Crisp bars or packages of chocolate covered peanuts, which she would hide and eat in her room. For my mission, I would receive one as a treat. Sometimes on a Saturday, after my trip to the store, Nan would let me stay inside and watch black and white movies with her. I always hoped for Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, or Abbott and Costello; but I also sat through B-grade horrors and spaghetti westerns. When the movies ended, Nan tuned into wrestling and would scream at the television and slam her fist on the kitchen table when things weren’t going her way. She was just a lonely old woman looking for a family, but you would never have known it by her disposition. She lived with us for several years but never felt like family.
The reason I thought of her today is the same reason I think of her on other winter days when I lay in bed listening to the wind howl after sleeping late. She used to sing a little ditty that remains in my head after all these years. She would sing it loud in her thick Scottish brogue. I can still hear her voice.
It’s nice to get up in the morning
when the sun begins to shine.
At four or five or six o’clock
in the good old summertime.
But when the snow is blowing,
and it’s murky overhead,
it’s nice to get up in the morning;
but it’s nicer to lie in your bed.
Although there is no snow blowing this morning, Nan arrived on the wind.
Thank you for reading.
Photo: Jenn Stone