I just never know what’s going to come out of my mouth on days like today. It could be something outrageous, it could be something hilarious, it could be something that would make most people shudder with shock, or bust out into laughter. It’s just that kind of day. My Nonnie used to laugh when I had those kinds of days and tell me, “K-Bett, you come sit right here by me !!” One of the first times that happened, I trotted myself over to her and climbed up on the chair beside hers and asked her if I was in trouble. She laughed and told me that I was not in trouble at all, but she could tell I was in rare form and she wanted to hear, first hand, the sheer entertainment that was about to come out of my mouth. Nonnie loved my wildness and my little smart-butt.
You see I was raised by women who had a lot of spark and sass. My Nonnie was a woman ahead of her time. She was married in 1929 to my Grandpa and they were married until he passed in 1985. My Grandmother, having loved him her entire life, never dated or remarried. I always loved the story of their young love and how they ended up getting married, in spite of the fact that my Grandpa’s family did not want him to marry her. In fact, they were incredibly against him marrying her and let their displeasure be known countless times.
It was the 1920’s and things were much different than they are today. Women were not supposed to have opinions and were supposed to be quiet and demure and stay in “their place.” Well my Nonnie was not a “stay-in-her-place-kind-of-girl.” She stood out in the crowd and drew a lot of attention and she loved it. She was effervescent and bubbly and the life of the party. There was nothing shy or quiet about my Nonnie. In fact, my Grandpa’s family told him that the reason they didn’t want him to marry her was because she laughed too much and wore too much red. This still makes me laugh today because every memory I have of her involves her laughing. She created happiness.
Of course, the very reasons that they did not want him to marry her, were the very reasons he fell so deeply in love with her. She stood out from the crowd. She was vibrant and alive and loved her life. He just couldn’t stay away from the young lady who laughed with her whole heart and loved with her entire soul. He was drawn to her and he was mesmerized by her light. When anyone asked her what her favorite color was, she would reply “Any color, as long as it’s red.” She loved red when she was a young girl and she loved red throughout the rest of her life. In fact, my third book in this series of books I am writing is titled, “Any Color, As Long as it’s Red.” It is a celebration of the magic Nonnie imparted into my soul.
Nonnie had that vibrancy and that zest for life that was so contagious you just loved to be in her presence. When I would tell her that other girls were talking about me Nonnie always responded with the same message, “let ‘em talk.” She always encouraged me to be who I was born to be and to never let anyone else tell me who that was. She told me that I wasn’t born to sit on the sidelines of life or to be like anyone else out there. When I would tell her that someone was prettier than me or better than me at something she would always tell me not to ever compare myself to anyone else, that we were all blessed in different ways and that’s the way God intended it.
Nonnie had a backbone of steel. She was firm in her beliefs and she didn’t allow anyone to ever disrespect her or anyone she loved. That simply wasn’t going to happen in her presence. Nonnie lived through the Great Depression and she was a fighter and a determined woman. When life was hard, Nonnie was harder. She was never going to allow life to beat her. She absolutely believed that you had to demand the best out of life and work your butt off to get it. She was one of the smartest women I have ever known, and she didn’t take any shit from anyone. No one defined her self-worth except her—she truly was a powerful force on this planet.
Nonnie was a spitfire in this lifetime and she was not afraid to walk to the beat of her own drum– Thoreau would have loved her. Laughing with Nonnie and my mom are some of my favorite memories in life. They loved to laugh and I know that is the origin of my romance with laughter. For me there is nothing better than laughing with friends till tears stream down your face. That kind of laughter just makes my heart happy. We would laugh so hard and I would tell her, “Nonnie, you’re crazy.” She wouldn’t bat an eye and would tell me, “Well I’m the best, damn, crazy woman you’ve ever met–I have crazy down to an art.” Nonnie consistently told me to embrace that little flair I had for being different and told me that there’s something to be said for being the only lime in a world of oranges. “Love yourself, baby girl, love yourself,” is what she told me for years.
My friends loved Nonnie. We were in college and would spend weekends in Middletown, Ohio with my grandmother rather than party on campus. After my Grandfather died, she stayed with us for a while. I would come home and my friends would be hanging out in her bedroom talking and laughing with her. Nonnie celebrated who she was and she celebrated every single person she loved. Nonnie had this beautiful ability to accept people as they were and love them without reservation or judgment. It didn’t matter who it was, Nonnie would find something beautiful and spectacular about them. If someone was a little different and eclectic, Nonnie gravitated to them. So, it is only fitting that on this day, I am celebrating all of the beautiful magic that Nonnie possessed and sprinkled throughout the lives of the people she loved.
Nonnie, I love you and I miss you every single day. You were a presence in my life that was perfect and beautiful. As I get older, I realize exactly how much I learned from you. On this day I thank you for all of the amazing lessons you taught me about not conforming and about being comfortable in my own skin. This Valentine is for you Nonnie. I think you would be proud to know that I finally love the shit out of myself. #adifferentkindofthrone