Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mean Jean

It still doesn't feel real. I've shed a lot of tears over the past couple of weeks. We've been to her house twice to collect/clean out memories. But somehow, my brain is just not really registering that the last of my immediate family on Daddy's side is gone.

When I think of my childhood, I think of two things. Home (Atlanta), and East Tennessee. Mostly Rockwood. From the point I almost drowned at the lake house, to the piano lessons, to the Honeybee Tree game... SO much of my childhood memories are connected to my Nana. "Mean Jean" as she was referred to by our whole family. Which, if you knew her, was the silliest nickname. Given she didn't have a mean bone in her body. Smart aleck? Spunky? Funny? ABSOLUTELY (this runs in the Smith blood). Mean? Not even a little bit. I cannot think of one time in my childhood that Nana even scolded me. I'm sure they're probably there... I just don't remember them.

It's funny how you remember the stupid little things you'll miss when you lose somebody. I used to love to play in the flour canister when I was little. I loved how soft the flour felt between my fingers. I think I even had a little song/rhyme that went with it, but I certainly can't remember it. There might be family members that do. I also loved Nana's tea pitcher. It had this mixer built into the lid that you pumped to mix/stir the drink inside. Think like a TNT detonator. That's how I treated it, as I pumped it every time she made tea. Even in adulthood.

I'll never get to taste that tea again, or pump the mixer handle.

We went this past weekend to sort through as much as we could. Decades worth of memories/clutter is overwhelming. You want to take everything. It meant something to her, therefore it means something to us. But obviously, keeping everything isn't an option. So you have to somehow think realistically. 

I'm lucky that I just had to go through this with my own stuff 3+ years ago when I moved out of my apartment and in with Daddy, planning for my move to Canada (ONE DAY, AMIRITE?!). So I was able to shut off the Katie "BUT IT MEANS SOMETHING" brain, and only take the few little things that I knew I would treasure. Plus one big thing. Nana's house (not Nana herself; the house visits) to me was always about the piano. Even when I got older and didn't sit down to play it. I would plunk out a quick Hot Cross Buns or Chop Sticks, just to reconnect to my youth. It's now in Daddy's house, and will eventually be in mine & Steve's home. I plan on reteaching myself to play the basics, then progressing from there and actually doing what I should have done in my youth, and becoming a piano player - not just a piano plunker. 

This might be the view I'll miss the most. Oooh, baby baby! Buh-buh-buh-baby!

Most of the cousins know this view the best. It's just missing the lower branches to help you climb up to the top.

I remember when the branches of this tree were so low I would try and hide inside of them during hide and seek. 

Mama's tree

I didn't have the pic of me & Liz as kids in front of this tree handy for this then-and-now photo-op. But once I find it, I'll be sure and add it. 30 years later...


  1. When we go in our house hunting trip, we are going by way of Chattanooga. I hope to make a trip to say good bye. The last time I saw her was July 2015. I was so happy to speak to her for almost an hour on her birthday this year. There's a literal life time of memories in that house. I hate that she left us... but find comfort that she is with Hubert, Susan and Uncle David again.

    1. We had a fun conversation on her birthday, as well. None of us were ready for this. Again, I don't think I've really processed the goodbye to that house. I think part of that is how much we've visited the cabin over the years. Maybe I know we'll just also visit the house...

  2. A very nice tribute and rendition of memories. Lots of love to you all.

  3. memories that will stay with you a lifetime.....