Nanny This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   She sat on the couch, as always, and as I stood in front of her I couldn't stop staring at the knee-high stockings which fell below her pale exposed knees. The green couch she sat on smelled like old people and her thick-soled shoes were planted on a transparent plastic mat.

Although I was young and small, about six years old, I could tell that the dark apartment was not large. I sat down in one of the overstuffed chairs and glanced back and forth between the game show on the television and the ninety-three-year old woman sitting next to me. She was my grandfather's mother and we called her Nanny. I needed to get out of the room that smelled of stale cigars and medicine but I didn't want to leave Nanny. I asked my mother if I could go play in the other room across the hall. As I stood up to leave, Nanny asked my mother if I was able to walk there by myself. At first I was confused but then my mother explained to me in a whisper that Nanny remembered me as much younger and didn't realize that I was now old enough to walk.

I played in the other room for a while and then came back to the living room. My mother's uncle Dave sat across the room smoking a cigar and watching the game show. My mother was sitting close to Nanny on the couch and was talking very loudly because Nanny was hard of hearing. Nanny motioned for me to sit next to her and although I was somewhat scared I sat down. She began to tell me the story about the braids that I'd heard many times before, but I was happy to hear it once more since it changed slightly every time she told it. When she was a girl she had very long, thick, dark braids. She began to get severe headaches and the doctor suggested that she cut off her braids. It made her sad to have to do this, but she did and her headaches went away. She saved the braids her whole life.

I loved to hear this story and I loved to watch her tell it. She had short colorless gray hair and large bags under her eyes. I could see the deep wrinkles that lined her face; they seemed to be marks left from all she had lived through.

When Nanny was sixteen she left her whole family in Austria to come to America. It was 1904 and at the train station her mother sent her off with the words, "I'll never see you again." And she never did see her mother again because her parents were later killed during the Holocaust. When Nanny arrived in America her uncle, who had said he would take her in, made her work as a maid. She cleaned his house and took care of his children, for nothing other than room and board. After several years, my great-grandfather met her and fell in love at first sight and she married him in order to get out of her uncle's house.

As I got older my visits to Nanny's became fewer. I seemed to be preoccupied with my own life and didn't seem to have the energy to spend even an hour with her. About a year before she died she had a heart attack. My grandfather and Uncle Dave were there. Nanny told them not to call an ambulance. She had accepted the fact that death had finally come. However Uncle Dave couldn't bear to let her die and called an ambulance. Nanny died a year later in the hospital. I was ten years old.

It amazes me that after raising her children, giving them so much love and devotion, and then loving her grandchildren just as much, after ninety-five years Nanny still had love left for me.n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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