When I was growing up I lived with my mother and father in Nana’s house, and I can tell you it wasn’t easy. Losing her parents in the 1918 flu epidemic, and having my mother just as the Great Depression broke out, molded her. Although other kids in the neighborhood never had difficulty conning their parents for enough money to get a regular supply of comic books, toys and candy, with me it wasn’t so easy. Once, for Christmas, I got socks and my grandmother was seriously concerned when I didn’t seen sufficiently grateful.
In the house, I was raised to standards that contrasted to the sloppy 70s around me. Meals were on strict schedules, no one ate until grace, and no one left until the last person, usually Nana, took their final nibble. I wrote thank-you notes for every present, even if those presents were from the rival grandmother, my paternal “Grandma from Florida.” Each visit to Nana’s friends was an exercise in restraint and etiquette. Today, I think I benefited from a strict upbringing. I have been molded, too.
She also had great judgment. Whoever I used to bring home to “meet the folks” she hated. Until she met the one I eventually married; they even slipped away for a private stroll and chat in the backyard. My mother and I knew immediately that Nana was favorably impressed. That was almost two decade ago.
When she died, we discovered that we weren’t as poor as we seemed. She had been squirreling away money all this time. And if she hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be able to afford my Mérida adventure. So you can see why calling it Casa Nana is the least we can do.
I should probably stop the story right here, but there’s something to add. Her father was an engineer, and at one point he was sent to Mexico to oversee the construction of a factory. It was not a good experience. I guess the locals took umbrage at his demands (he had called them lazy), and one of them pulled a knife on him. My great grandfather somehow escaped unharmed, but that one little anecdote always colored her impression of the country. Before I was born, she had traveled all over Europe and Canada, but never Mexico. So I enjoy the small bit of irony in naming our future casa for Nana.
What I didn’t realize until now is that the name is already taken — by a $70 million Palm Beach estate. I hope this doesn’t cause any confusion when friends come to visit.