Posts Tagged ‘Gladys Tennant’

(A recent story addition to grandmother’s page on my online family tree.)

By friends and adult relatives, my grandmother was always referred to by her middle name Gladys or by her nicknames “Glady” and “Ten,” which was short for her maiden name Tennant. Her tombstone bears the name Gladys and many mistakenly believe that was her first name.

One summer day in my childhood, when I was visiting and we were busying ourselves making hollyhock dolls, I asked her why everyone called her Gladys instead of Victoria. She replied, “My mother wanted me to be elegant so she gave me an elegant name, but I was never elegant.” She peeled one side of a freshly picked hollyhock bud to make the doll’s face, handed it to me with a look of amusement and continued, “So I was just Gladys.” I fastened the bud to its open, bloomed skirt with a toothpick, plopped it into a bowl of water along with others we’d already made, smiled back, and finished her story with, “And now you’re just Nana!”

I spent many childhood summers visiting my grandparents, and many hours learning to knit and crochet or reading project directions to her so that she could crochet a toy animal, a scarf, mittens, or sweaters for me in just a few hours. She was the maker of the many crocheted afghans and well-worn knitted pot holders I still have and use, and the last thing I remember her making was a yellow knitted sweater-vest for my son, Joel, when he was a young boy. Nana was a “lefty” and I was a “righty,” but everything she taught me was the left-handed way, including knitting and crocheting. She played card games with me and taught me to deal left-handed. When my dad taught me to tie my shoes, he taught me the left-handed way she had taught him. Apparently my mom had repeatedly tried to teach me, but I just couldn’t do it until my right-handed dad showed me his left-handed way. Although I write right-handed, my many left-handed tendencies seem to have come from her. My brother also has many left-handed tendencies and even wanted to write left-handed, but that was discouraged by teachers.

Nana played the piano and sang hymns and many children’s songs to us. She loved poetry, wrote little poems herself that she called “doggerel,” and was often quoting humorous sayings, like “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” I also heard her laugh to herself and respond to something on occasion with, “Go to Father.” I didn’t understand this seemingly random retort until years later when I asked my Uncle Dick Prentis why she’d sometimes say that. He belly-laughed, explained that it came from a rhyme she knew, and recited it to me:

Go to father, she said
When he asked her to wed
‘Though she knew that he knew
That her father was dead,
And she knew that he knew
Of the life he had led,
And she knew that he knew
What she meant when she said,
“Go to father.”

So it seems that Nana had a mischievous sense of humor!

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