Tuesday, 13 March 2012
My "Max" Mug, Remembering Nana
I took my "Max" (Maxwell House) mug out of the dishwasher today and wanted to cry. The once cherry red shiny lettering is beginning to fade. I'm not sure if I can take it if the lettering comes off. I need to remember to hand wash it. This silly mug has been mine since grade 13, that was a long, long time ago. The Max mug is not just a mug, it represents my Nana's love for me.
Neither of my grandmother's were the baking cookie type. Both of them were very far from the stereotypical grandmother. My Mom is the stereotypical grandmother. She bakes cookies with them. She and my Dad spoil them rotten. Really to fit the bill, my mom just needs to be a bit rounder and wear a bib apron, and she is the advertisement for "Grandmother". That was not my Grandma or my Nana. My Nana was one of the strongest woman I know. She did not have a lot financially, but she more than made up for that in personality, and spunk.
Nana was my soft spot to fall. I was pretty certain that I was her favourite grandchild, I never shared this with my sister or cousins, but I was pretty sure I was. I mentioned that my Nana was one of the strongest women that I know, she was also one of the most interesting. She saw two world wars, the last of which she was a young mother living in Scotland. Nana would tell tales of waking up and neighbourhood houses would have been reduced to ruble when they woke. They would hear the sirens at all hours and listened for the whistle of the bombs. She sent her children off to school, and did not know if she would see them again. I would sit and listen to her every word, every pause, every breath. She would tell us stories of our family history (I'm now not sure how much truth there was to them). We heard stories of Robert The Bruce, Bonny Prince Charley, and The Isle of Skye. We were descendants of Robert the Bruce (I was really upset when I watched Brave Heart), Nana told us. A Bruce never killed a spider, it was because of a spider that he went on to defeat the English. She never spoke about her trip to Canada. I think about how brave she was, traveling to a new country with four small children, all by herself (My Papa and my Aunt Jean had come over six months earlier.) She left her sisters and brothers, and mother and father behind, knowing that she may never see them again. She plunged herself into the great unknown. I wonder now if she never spoke of it, because it was too hard to think about.
Nana was a double amputee, and yet she danced at everyone of her grandchildren's weddings. She never complained about having no legs, at least not that I ever heard. She always held herself so straight and with such dignity. She was my role model. She did not have a lot of money, but she always managed to give me a little money when I went on school trips. "Here Pet", and she would hand me a jam jar full of change. I was "Pet" when she was especially loving. "Pet",one of the best words in the English language.
Nana was never without a cup of black instant coffee and a cigarette. When my Riley was born I said to my Mom, "oh she looks like Nana, she just needs a cigarette and a pair of knitting needles". It was always Maxwell House instant coffee. When I was in grade 13 there was a promotion run by Maxwell House Coffee. If you collected something like a million coffee labels they would send you a "Max" coffee mug. I needed that mug. It would be the crowning jewel to my collection of items that I needed for university. Every time I saw Nana I would ask how many labels we had. "We're almost there Pet". Finally after what felt like years we had enough. I sent the labels off and then not so patiently waited. When my mug finally came, you would have thought it was made of gold. I was so excited.
I went off to university with my mug, a treasured possession. Whenever I drank out of that mug, it felt like a little hug from Nana. My Nana was 83 when she died. I was a newly wed. I thought that the bottom had dropped out of my world. I was inconsolable. My mug took on even more meaning. Still to this day when I pull my "Max" mug out of the cupboard I smile. It seems insane to feel an emotional connection with a mug, feel free to call me insane, because I do. That mug reminds me of my Nana's love. It reminds me of what a powerful force she was in shaping me. It makes me thankful for the strong stock I come from.