Presence: Nana and More Nana

by | Mar 21, 2015 | Ordinary, Reflections

When I was little my mom and dad and I lived with my grandparents for a couple of years. I met Nana. Not far away was another Nana. I called her “More” Nana. And so they were named my whole life.

I no longer work in an office. I work in a study. (This naming is important to me as I reclaim usage of the word for where a minister prepares and writes.) I like my study with its warm walls, books, and little symbol-treasures.

I am aware how my grandmothers are present with me in this place.

Nana's matThis is Nana’s hooked mat. I’ve been carefully preserving it in acid free paper but when I moved my work into my study, I decided to put it on the floor and enjoy it.

My mother tells me that Nana hooked mats like this in the winter. She would design the pattern on paper. She hooked not with yarn, but with wool rags, coiled in her fingers. Sometimes she would dye the rags to get the right colour.

There aren’t many of her mats left. Mom says travelling salesmen would trade pieces of cheap linoleum for mats like this. Linoleum was prized. It was easier to clean than rough wood floors.

But it doesn’t feel like a fair trade.

The mat reminds me of Nana’s creativity.
I can’t hook mats.
But I work with my hands too.
I lay out words like a mat. And sometimes when I doubt, I need to remember the value of my work.

More Nana was church organist for 40 years. Sometimes at Christmas the congregation would give her a card and money. Most often she would give it back. One year she didn’t. She bought bright little tubes of oil paint, a brush, and a canvas and she began to paint. And she painted and painted. She was in her 60’s when she took up painting.

Nana's pictureThis is one of her last pictures. It is unfinished. It hangs by my desk in my study.

The picture reminds me of More Nana’s creativity.
I don’t paint.
But I have imagination, a keyboard, and a website.

And I’m trying new things.

Today I am very grateful for my grandmothers.


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  1. This is so lovely it makes my heart ache to read it. You are fortunate to have reminders in your study of More Nana.

  2. I love the gifts you received and appreciate from your Nana and your More Nana. The world is more beautiful because of them!

  3. Beautiful…

  4. I have very fond memories of growing up with a “Nana” in my house too… I still love to hear stories about her… She was so generous , kind, and full of fun… What a wonderful gift to have such a special person in your life!

  5. Treasured memories of Nana and More Nana to enjoy in your study and now to share their beauty and meaning for you with others. I will take note today of these types of memories that have been part of my life,

  6. Thank you for sharing. I loved hearing about your Nanas and that you are using your Nana’s mat. I can’t think of a better way to honor her. I also hook rugs and love to see them being used and enjoyed.

  7. Loved this sharing of your Nana treasures.Thank you for this as reminded me of my “Nana”. I have a hooked mat in my living room from my Grandmother who I called Gran. Also an afghan she knit is on my couch. She was creative with her hands which were also very arthritic. She inspired me in so many ways.
    You share your creativity through the written and spoken word. We all have creativity within ,just different ways of expressing it.

  8. How wonderful to have treasures from Nana and More Nana to remind us that the gifts we offer are often only “unpacked” years after their creation, sometimes in places and hearts we can’t imagine. Thank you.

  9. In my children’s time this morning I talked about the love I remember from my grandmothers and the love I experience as a grandmother like God’s love written on my heart. just had another lovely few days being called Nana. Every time I hear it spoken it is sweet music to my ears. We create things together. I want that memory to be strong for them. Surely your grandmothers would be delighted by to ur creativity.

  10. I love this !!

  11. Precious memories which you gave lovingly laid out in words. Thank you for sharing these with us.

  12. This is a lovely story of the mat and the picture.
    Further to mom’s mats, she had started one , but hooked only a row or two, then gave it up and frame and all went to the attic. It was then she started painting. She would be in her sixties. On her death, we gave the frame and started mat to The Lake Ainslie Historical Soc. where it gives folks an idea of how mat-hooking was done. I always look at and marvel as to how the women of her day expressed themselves, no Facebook
    Or emails for them!

  13. Thanks for the comments. I’m happy to share this glimpse with you.

  14. Thanks for your reflection, Janice. I have dishes from my grandmother’s as the way they prepared meals showed how they cared for all of us. I used their platters to serve turkey and roast beef, the kind of meals that speak to me of family gatherings. It is important to remember our ancestors and that they live on through us in unique ways. It is lovely that you have such beautiful pieces of inspiration in your study.

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