Nanny Come Home
Our old nanny came back to visit us today. She’s ninety five years old now, and she was with our family for more than twenty five years. She was a cook before my parents got married, and got promoted to nanny when I came along. With over seventy years of cooking experience, you can imagine how amazing a chef she is. I grew up playing with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and she’s witnessed all of us growing up. She witnessed too much, in fact. That was the reason she left is, because she couldn’t bear the way my dad treated us anymore. We lost an important ally that day.. But wow. The memories are a huge jumble now.
I still remember how me and my best friend while growing up, Sherrie, would constantly be under her feet. In the end, she’d give us butter knives and set us peeling potatoes to keep us busy. As you can imagine, we’d butcher more potatoes than we peeled. But the whole idea of playing ‘kitchen’ in a real kitchen, with real vegetables and real French fries at the end, was awesome. Eventually ‘kitchen’ gave way to water pistol fights, and football and cricket with my brother and his friends, but there was always a pitcher of orange juice or lemonade waiting for us, at the end of the day. Then my sister had her beans phase. Green beans for about six months, every day. And our nanny dutifully made the same exact boiled green beans breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for that time period. My sister refused to eat anything unless there were beans on her plate too. Our nanny has a mortal terror of reheating frozen food, it always had to be freshly made. And then came the okra phase. And then the tater tots phase. The tater tots phase was a mass delusion, because all three of us were obsessed with them during that time period. And not just us. All our school friends, too. Back in middle school I’d have someone or the other over for lunch every week that dad wasn’t home.
She’s actually been a parent to us more than my father has ever been. She stayed up every night one of us was sick, giving my mom company. She’s ‘accompanied’ us to various birthday parties when my dad wasn’t okay with us going alone. That actually translated into ‘he didn’t want us going at all’, but she took that excuse away from him. She stayed home all night with us on the night when the gate and a part of our wall caved in, because of a terrible, terrible storm. My sister and brother was just toddlers, I was very young, and my mom and her sat in the patio all night long, ready to make a run for it if the rest of the house start coming down too. Her son came down to sleep in our yard the day my dad’s brother came to our house in a drunken rage, demanding that my mom give him money. When she didn’t, he promised to return with friends to ‘teach’ us a lesson. None of us slept that night. She even got hit by my dad a few times, when she and my mom jumped into shelter us during dad’s blind frenzies. It’s not surprising why she left, none of those is part of any nanny’s job descriptions. And her heart wasn’t up to the constant exposure to dad, either. It was too stressful for her, especially at her age, so she left.
I’m glad she did. When she came today, it took her a few moments to realize that absolutely nothing has changed in my house. Sure, I’m a doctor now, and my brother and sister are all grown up, but nothing has changed in essence. We’ve gone from being the kids who hid behind the curtain and watched when she pretended to watch tv for our sakes, to being adults who don’t even have the time to watch tv anymore. Not that we could, I suspect. It still annoys dad too much, unless we’re watching news or one of his religious programming programs. Nothing’s changed, it’s a sad reminder. But even though she lectured me on the importance of finding a good husband before I get too old, it was still absolutely lovely to see her. One of the few people who cared.