Dear Michael and Caroline,
Much of what I have turned out to be – for good and for ill, because, I, too, am rather a snob – I am because of my Nana. She gave me her all from the very start, even wheeling me around the Bronx as a baby.
She saw so much in me, maybe a second chance to be the right kind of mother. She saw in me a child who could hear her, as her first child, my mother, never could. She saw in me, too, a child largely obedient, respectful, appreciative, compliant, descriptions all most likely inapplicable to her second child, my Uncle Leonard.
She must have seen me, even, as a kind of opportunity for redemption, for success where she felt she had previously failed.
In short, she had her reasons for treating me as well as she did, reasons that probably had more to do with her than with me.
Oh, and here’s yet another reason, perhaps the most important of all. She might have blamed herself for my mother being deaf, and so she might have held herself responsible for her deaf daughter’s son as well.
She probably saw me as a child who could never get from my parents everything she could get me, neither the attention nor the culture nor the guidance. By the same token, just as she always made me feel special – secure, loved – so must taking care of me have made her feel special, even vaguely heroic, a stature she no doubt savored.
All this is to say, if nothing else, that I wish for everyone in this life to have at least once the kind of love my grandmother had for me, a grandmother who would do anything for me, and often did. You know what I mean. You, too, count among the lucky ones in this regard. And that has always made me feel lucky all over again.
P.S. — Please tell me about your own Nana.