Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Saturday, April 5, 2014

11-7-13 RMB Happy Birthday Nana Lou

11-7-13 RMB Happy Birthday Nana Lou  

Dear Rita Mae Brown,

Today is Nana Lou’s birthday, my mom, my friend, and in her last year, often my Sunday morning breakfast mate. I’d go up to Orange County on weekends to help my sister by hanging out with our mom. On Sunday mornings, ever the early riser, Mom would be ready to be taken out to breakfast. The two of us would get in the car and drive a few blocks to the local restaurant.

This time together was special because it was just the two of us. It was also Rita’s only time to be in the house without worrying about what mom might need or how she might be feeling, making it a special time for her to regroup and regenerate.

In anyone else’s care, mom would have been left alone and probably amused herself or simply rested her last days away. Rita, however is a supreme caretaker. Mom was brought out to the living room to sit and watch shows with the family or do puzzles or at least be in sight, so Rita could ask often if she needed anything, refresh her iced tea, tuck in her blankets, you name it.

As Rita ran circles around us all, Mom would joke to me, “She tires me out. I need to go lay down.” When her circulation lessened to the point that she was always cold, it was Rita that warmed up her jammies in the dryer before bedtime.

On our breakfast dates I was reminded of what made this woman so special. She looked at the world with wonder in her eyes. Other people fascinated her and she had a smile for each one that crossed her path. She chatted with everyone as if she had met up with an old friend. She loved colors, the brighter the better and her wardrobe reflected that. These days, my niece teases my Rita, her mom, by telling her she is turning into Nana Lou as her clothing lights up with more colors than ever before.

Perhaps we are both becoming more like her as we age, although you won’t find me wearing purple and pink, people are becoming interesting, especially as my fiction writing moves along. I see aspects of individuals that I previously overlooked and I understand part of what fascinated her so.

And best of all, we are all beginning to look at the world with wonder in our eyes.

Happy Birthday to Nana Lou,


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