Brains and Beauty

Nana has been going downhill lately. She suffered a stroke and is in hospital. Thought this was worth reposting

“Hiya love” the melodious tone always greets me. I lean in for a hug and she smiles widely as she kisses me. The floury white hair and full face atop a plump body adorned with well worn clothes residing in a nondescript blue sofa. I sit down and she blinks to try to recognize my face. She has a lot of grandchildren. And her mind and her eyes have trouble deciphering which is which, more and more of late.

“You can’t have brains and beauty” is a saying of hers. Of course I always quip back that she managed it just fine. Like any good grandmother she tries to stuff her grandchildren with any and all amount of food in the house. There’s what’s known as the ‘fudgie box’ that always contains an assortment of chocolate bars. And then of course there’s also the lemonade. The cheap varieties of both but that doesn’t seem to matter. It wouldn’t do to have expensive stuff in a two bed roomed house that raised a family of nine.

“I’m fine Nan” I always say. You’re not being a proper Irish person unless you refuse the first offer of hospitality. “Go on and have a biscuit there, la.” The addition of la to the end of the sentence is an essential requirement of the Cork vernacular. “Alright so.” I poke around. It’s impossible to take just one because you see, I’m still a growing boy. It’s pretty much impossible to refuse anything Nana offers me. I remember a few years back when my brother and me called down for lunch from where we were working for the Summer. She offered us pocket money. We refused. “It’s alright Nan. We’re working now so we don’t need money”. In a tone that would broach no disagreement an outstretched hand offered us petrol money instead.

Nana is bothered. Nana gets confused. Nana gets tired. But Nana is still Nana. If you have ever admired my curls or played with them you need to thank her. She was the one who kept onto me for years – even through my teenage skin head phase that I should grow my curls and then I’d have all the women chasing after me. Turns out that having women chase after you is over-rated. One thing I’ve noticed about my Nana’s generation is they have no hesitation in appreciating beauty.

“She’s a beautiful girl. Look she’s showing some knee and all.” A woman on TV is wearing a dress and sitting down so that the slit reveals an all over tan. “Well Nan as you always say” – she interrupts: “If you’ve got it flaunt it” comes out in stereo. She smiles back and makes me take another biscuit. “I’m watching my figure” she says in her faux haughty voice. She turns her head slightly and her chestnuts brown lock my oceans blue. “Maybe you can have both brains and beauty” her eyes twinkle.


2 Responses to “Brains and Beauty”

  1. 1 lyncampbell Thursday, 8 April 2010 at 03:28

    I LOVE this post. Such beautiful characterisation and authentic dialogue. Glorious writing.

  2. 2 Karita Thursday, 8 April 2010 at 20:37

    I love this post too.

    I know what it’s like when a beloved grandparent suffers a stroke. I hope she can recover.

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