She came here because of me.
Sure, the constant drinking and drama that circumscribed her in New Jersey became unbearable, and the home her daughter had made in Michigan seemed like the place to escape to. However, anyone who knows anything would tell you that Joan came to the Midwest because she had a new granddaughter.
Geese. When I think of my Nana Joan’s first years here, I think of the geese surrounding her little condo in Eaglecrest. I also think of the creek that meandered through her backyard, the time I electrocuted myself on a power line, and the keyboard that sat in the basement. I loved that keyboard and all the funky sounds it would make. Come any Nana Joan and Jessie sleepover, I would pull her down the flight of stairs into the eerie lower floor to tickle the ivories until it came time to sleep.
Eaglecrest went almost as quickly as it felt it came, and soon we were driving out past the airport each Sunday for dinner at Nana’s. She always made dessert first and sat it out on the kitchen counter for the grandkids to pick at before our meal. The On-Demand jazz channel played on the television as we all laughed at jokes funny only to us. Once having put everything in the oven, Nana would come to the counter and, clapping her hands together, read out the evening menu.
It was in this little oasis that we decorated her Christmas tree with antiquated ornaments and stale candy-canes. Where we would eat sometimes poorly cooked yet delicious food and wash it all down with a variety of baked goods. Where I would visit some weekends and spend the night on the daybed, watching the Yankees and Family Feud with my Nana as she brushed my hair with her long nails. On hot summer days, this is where I would flock to swim in the pool and then eat Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream with a mini spoon.
Some of my most fond memories, however, came towards the end. These snapshots occurred when she moved into our basement, and we renovated it into an apartment for her. When I helped her make her bed for the first time and afterward, she promptly turned to me and said, “Okay, now take my picture,” sitting down on the mattress and posing for my raised camera. Every day in my freshman year, I would arrive home to a plate of cookies and a set of listening ears ready to digest all my highschool drama.
However, all of this is overshadowed by the time she said she loved me before I could utter the words first, and I realized she had stayed here, in part, because of me.