When I was in elementary school and junior high, I had a recurring nightmare. It went on for years and the details changed each time but the plot was always the same: My great-grandmother came back from the dead and was trying to kill me.
Nanny died when I was about nine years old but when I was much younger, she wasn’t nice to me at all. She had some health issues that apparently changed her personality and made her quite difficult to handle. When I was a toddler (and frankly not yet great at the walking), she would reach her foot out to trip me when I walked past her chair. Other times, she would just out of the blue pinch me on the arm or the leg. I don’t recall her ever saying anything to warn me of an imminent attack; she would just go for it.
When her diabetes began progressing, my grandma and I would physically have to bar her from the refrigerator. That was super uncomfortable for me as a grade-schooler. Nanny wasn’t a large person at all but she was mean as hell. She became too much for my grandma to care for so she went to a nursing home and died not long after having her leg amputated. I was told I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral because I was too young and didn’t really care one way or the other by the time she was gone.
The nightmare always started with a large gray blob flying into our neighborhood. It never said anything but I knew it was there for me. There was never anyone around to help me so I just hid. Sometimes, I was at my grandma’s house and would hide in a closet. Other times, I was caught outside without any cover and would run into tall weeds and hide on the ground. Sometimes when I was trying to hide, I didn’t have legs with which to run. Each time, I would wake up in a panic right before she was able to get me.
My grandma told me many times she wished I could have known Nanny when she was younger because she was such a fun person to be around. She loved hunting and riding horses and led a life of great adventure. In 2018, she and my great-grandfather were inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Nanny was very involved in historic preservation and had lots of famous contacts.
Unfortunately, my experiences with her as a child prevented me from wanting to get to know her history or her family’s history. Only now am I discovering the tales of her ancestors as well as our living cousins in the US and Germany. The world has become a much smaller place and I am able to reach out to my relatives around the world from the super computer I carry in my purse. One of the benefits of being an adult is I can do so without falling out of bed and hitting my head on the nightstand.
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