Elizabeth T. Hayes died today. I am Elizabeth H. Hayes. The weight of that name weighs heavy tonight.
My Nanny’s obituary is full of accolades and accomplishments; full of awards and honors. She did something with her life. She did things, saw things and changed things. You don’t meet anyone that knows Nanny that doesn’t remark “what a wonderful lady.” As I hear that this weekend I am going to ask, “what made her wonderful to you?” So maybe I can learn things about her that I don’t know.
The name is too big for me.
I’ll never measure up the Elizabeth Hayes. Literally and figuratively. She was over 6 ft tall. Her shoe size almost double my size 7. She had a bearing about her that made grown men stand up straight as is they were afraid of being reprimanded by the forever teacher in her. To this day I’ve never been referred to as a “wonderful lady” and there isn’t much that I do that will change that.
I’ll never be or do what Nanny was.
I will however carry on a few Elizabeth legacies.
Stubbornness. I get it honest. I guess you had to be stubborn to do all she’s done. If we get something in ours heads we don’t quit until we get it. Headstrong is another way to put it.
I used to love to read like my Nanny. There is hardly a room in her house without books. She read up until she couldn’t read anymore-right until the end.
To be honest, We aren’t much in the way of housekeepers. It’s not that we can’t do it but more so that there are just other things we like to do better.
Nanny was an adventurer. When I was 14 she loaded my sister and a cousin into a car and drove is to visit relatives-in Idaho. There we went white water rafting an school camping with Nanny and her size 13 pumps and purse were right along with us. I always wondered why she thought she needed her purse I’m the middle of the snake river. She was about 70 at the time (?) yet she piled is in a car and off we went without a backward glance. She planned stops along the way: wall drugs and the house in the rock were 3 of the quirky stops we made. An adventurer.
Others talk of Nanny and her lovely conversation. To be honest, I never had any lively conversations with her. Nanny, like me, was quiet unless she had something to say or unless you asked her a question about the past. I didn’t ask the questions so I missed out on a lot of her stories. Shame on me.
Nanny, like me, is a saver. I believe she had every card and envelope that was ever sent to her. Or did before my mom and aunts whipped her house onto shape for her 100 year celebration. Nanny would open a card or letter. Read the card or letter and the slowly—and I do mean slowly—slide the item back into the envelope and slowly—and again I mean slowly—lay it to the side. When looking for something needed at her recent birthday party I found an incomplete savings stamp book from eons ago right beside my uncles grade school report card. He’s 60 or so now.
As we were gathered around to say our goodbyes my mom pointed to the shoe rack on the back of the door and pointed out the number and the style of shoes. “You’d never know those belonged to a 100 year old woman would you?” She remarked. “I know you are laying an egg over those.” She pointed to a pair of beige and pink patent saddle oxfords with beige ribbon ties that I was indeed laying an egg over. Nanny had a sense of funky about her that I think I share. Sunday I am wearing my funky boots in a salute to a fellow funk-an-ista. Somewhere there is a recent picture of her at a dedication of a pavilion bearing her name with her face framed by the high collar of a large, ostentatious fur coat. It’s a statement coat and I love it. It’s something I would wear. I share that with her. We aren’t afraid to make a statement with attire.
She had a funny little smile and a great big one that lit up her face when something pleased her. I have a big smile. She had long, graceful hands-I have short hands that used to look graceful. We share that.
We share that we both love a Henry-she my grandpa and me my dad and my son.
We share that if we are sitting down we like covers. I cover up every night in what used to be a quilt. A quilt nanny gave us long ago.
Nanny loved apples and so do I.
She liked wild flowers and would craft an arrangement of them to take to the church she attended every 4th Sunday so long ago. I love flowers and prefer the wild, natural ones.
Elizabeth Hayes. It’s a beautiful name. It’s a big name. It’s my name.