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Spring lilacs bring thoughts of Nanny

Lilac bushes are in bloom. They always remind me of my Nanny.

I remember going to her little house with my parents.

I had on a great little summer dress. I recall being really happy with what I was wearing.

Except my socks.

I had brown, woven leather sandals on, and my mom made me wear socks. Little white socks. Except one was longer than the other.

If they were both the same length, I would not have been so distracted by them, but it was really throwing my whole look off.

Nanny had a sun room at the back of her house, filled with about a bazillion African violets. That was her thing.

She would take cuttings from one, and replant them, in anything.

There were small violets growing out of Dow bathroom cleaner caps and margarine containers.

Whatever she could re-use, she did. She was a recycler before it became hip.

Outside, in her yard were lilac bushes. Maybe there was only one. I cannot see that in my mind’s eye. We clipped some. A huge bunch, that she wrapped the ends of in tin foil.

I felt like a bride, walking around, carrying the fragrant bouquet.

Nanny always seemed to have ginger ale. She offered me a glass of “ginger” and she would hand it to me, with her shaky little grip, in a somewhat, not quite as clean as I would have liked, juice glass.

She chain smoked in her house, and the walls and ceiling were stained yellow. Everything reeked of smoke.

Nanny walked around with a cigarette, between her bony fingers. If she didn’t have an ashtray, she simply ashed in her hand.

Her house was filled with everything Asian. She must have always wanted to go to China, or Japan. She had a Chinese screen, and paintings of junk boats, and blue and white china everywhere.

There were some small pagodas, and a ceramic bonsai tree.

A place that she seemed fascinated by, so far away. She never got beyond Brooklyn and Long Island.

She had a sweet voice, and glasses that pushed the skin down on her nose into a wrinkled lump from years of wear.

She called me sweet names, like “kitten,” or “pigeon.”

When she liked what you were wearing, she told you that you looked jazzy.

She always had a pile of newspapers on her kitchen table. Her living room, and sun room were as far as she let you go. I never saw her upstairs. We weren’t allowed beyond the top step.

The smell of lilacs always remind me of her. You would think cigarettes would, but it is the sweet lilac scent that brings me back to her small house.

I can still see the chain dangling above her shoulders that kept her glasses attached to her body.

I can still hear John Gambling on the radio, that constantly played.

She comes back quietly each spring, and taps me on the shoulder with her lovely blooms.


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