Or at least that is what she told me as a child and I repeated to others. And now I understand adults’ amused faces when they asked me to repeat the statement.
She also told me that rocks grew and I became worried that we would have problems when the pebbles overtook our backyard.
She told my younger sister that if she didn’t behave the woman down the road would come and get her.
Nanny was a character.
My father died when I was five and my mother moved home. When I was eight she bought a top/bottom duplex so my grandparents could move in below and look after us. We ate our weeknight dinners at her kitchen.
She was a terrible cook.
I grew up eating only a handful of things things: fish sticks, chicken dinner, chicken dinner leftovers, bland spaghetti, fish chowder.
And yet some of my favourite foods are her recipes, coconut cherry balls at Christmas, shrimp dip for special occasions, Duncan Hines marble cake with homemade icing for birthdays.
She lived through some tough times so making sure people had enough money was very important to her. Even when I made 5 times her meager retirement allowance she would stuff a $20 bill into my pocket so I could not refuse it.
When I moved away we would write each other a few times a month. We would never talk about anything serious other than the weather, what our dog was doing and that everyone was fine. She bought cards specifically for it and her envelopes were decorated with sparkley stickers.
She sent dish clothes that she had knitted. Even when I sold everything to travel I could not throw them out.
And when I returned home it was mandatory that my sister and I played cards with our grandparents. She had taught us Auction 45 and Cribbage as children and decades later we still had the same game play – she would whinge about how she had terrible cards and then laugh at the end when she spoiled your bid.
Every time she saw me she asked if I had lost weight. It was just her way of giving a compliment.
Up until her mid-eighties she was strong and healthy, like most of the women in her family I assumed she would live to 100. But then she started to deteriorate and it happened quickly.
She lost the sharp edge that she once had.
When I returned home after South America she had good days and bad. One particularly bad night she was talking nonsense and was in and out of sleeping on the couch. I was lamenting how she had changed and then she perked up and looked at me and asked if I had lost weight.
Even in the fog part of her remained.
A few days before I left for Europe she fell and cracked her pelvis. Before my flight I visited her in the hospital and while the nurses warned us she was on morphine and not with it, when I spoke to her she perked up and she knew I was there.
And while she had weakened over the years I thought she would just rebound and I would see her at Christmas.
But on my frantic way home from Europe I thought she passed and no one wanted to tell me. In the end I arrived at night and was able to see her.
The next morning, surrounded by family, she opened her eyes, sighed and was gone.