She Must Also Walk In Full Faith & Knowledge of Her Value

Proverbs 31:10-1210Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Nanny: A virtuous woman. She walked in full faith and knowledge of her worth on this earth and her value to god.

Those simple words on the value of a virtuous woman has been something I strived for since the first time I heard myself read it. Before this time in my life I wasn’t really a bible reader. We went to church on Sundays when we did, even through my first marriage. I was divorced and maybe in my 2nd or 3rd year of teaching; at least 33 years old when Nanny passed away.

Nanny was my Godmother. In South Louisiana 60’s and 70’s Catholic Religion standards placed Godmother & Godfather in charge of a child’s spiritual, and religious development if something were to happen to the parents. They were also the go-to people in the event of the death of their Godchild’s parents. Essentially a spare set of parents who would raise that child in the event… and Nanny mothered me as her own for a large part of my formative years, weekends and summers through school, and even through my teenage years.

The first church service I remember attending was with them. It feels like I was 8 but might have been younger as I remember being very curious and looking at and questioning everything. I remember that I was such a brat Brother even got agitated with me that day. Brother and I were the youngest two, so Nanny made us sit next to her and it got a little out of hand when he started picking on me about asking so many questions, and she had had enough. She grabbed hold of me in a stern little shake of my arm with a pinch, and a whispered scolding, “You behave yourself here, this is mass and you don’t misbehave in front of God.” I certainly checked myself but the only thing I remember feeling for the rest of that service was shock and awe. My whole view of “Church,” the service, and Nanny shifted at that moment. I just knew we were in a place of importance and wonderment. We had to be, because Nanny had never placed such high value on my behavior before.

Even now, I know I was generally given and allowed whatever I wanted. Yes indeed, I was a spoiled brat, and they all spoiled me in each their own way. Parrian wasn’t able to have a second to shuck an oyster or skin a catfish if I knew about it, and let me go at it with patience that often came from a high ball drink, and I always over poured the whisky when he would let me fix it in the evenings. I see where I probably gave his nerves a lot of reasons to need that drink. Jr, Big Brother, even now, just the coolest ever, like the TV big brothers. Much older than me and way more “grown up” at his 16 to my 8 than should have been allowed, think of James Dean but not so greasy, it was the 70s. Sister’s 16 to my 10 was what I wanted to be at 16. She had her own job, always looked put together and loved me enough to let me and AllieCat get away with smearing all of her Teen Beat and Tiger Beat posters with lip gloss. She was a big influence in my desire to write also, or at least her “True Story” magazines were. And Brother had four years on me just the right amount of years that could aggravate an older brother. Imagine my 8 to his 12 and know he loved me as much as he tormented me; just the way big brother’s were supposed to. The best of it was that Nanny’s special love and guidance was always there. She’d check me if I got out of hand, mostly managed with that “look” every mother learns how to give, even in my 20’s while going through a divorce. I was always sure of Nanny’s love, a security I had nowhere with no one – Nanny’s love was the only honest love I knew. Nobody knew that but me so I still keep her love close. 

I see where it seems like I’m describing a kind of Donna Reed TV show, and looking back at my memories does give them a “larger than life” prominence. I am aware of everyone I had in my life as I was growing up and fully recognize that I only knew that kind of love with them. No other home or family involved in my life even came close to the love I felt from this family of mine, until my love for my children and current husband. That very fact says they deserve to be “larger than life” in my memories.

I knew I was “something special” in this family, and felt every bit of it in their love, especially the beautiful, pure, love and guidance Nanny gave me. Looking back, I see where I soaked up all the love Nanny gave me in every way. I needed it in ways no one else knew and often lived for it when I didn’t get to run off to Nanny’s any time I wanted.

I have to give respect to the pain that that was in the love this whole family gave me. Knowing their extraordinary loss and the pain that was in their hearts, yet still feeling special in their love, especially Nanny’s takes their strength and love to another level for me. As a mother, I have to say, the love I received from Nanny had to be some kind of special magic love because I don’t know if I could have continued living, much less loving another child with the same love I remember coming from her if I had lost a child in such a way. I recognize today, the pain and loss of broken hearts that were never repaired properly, and fully acknowledge how much more their love means to my life to feel so special in this home that lost a child and still cared enough about me to love me and show me the love of God.

I want to say that I don’t feel like I ever tried to replace her or even that I was her replacement. I feel like I placed her high in esteem with a kind of reverence as I grew up that I still feel today. Yes, my crazy OCD head reels through imaginary adventures WE would have had growing up together. Knowing our life growing up there tells me she would have been the coolest hippie chick friend I ever had. Knowing that great loss and how I always felt so secure in Nanny’s love says to me that I would have felt her love for me the same way, with the same value I felt then even if there had been no accident. The love, Mothering, and guidance Nanny gave me was the most pure and probably the only real open, loving, affection, I recall feeling growing up. Nanny taught me a love I’ve only felt with my children and husband since and her loving guidance is still with me as the example I follow as a virtuous woman.

When Sister informed me of her passing and that I was chosen for a reading at her mass I honestly didn’t feel that I could do it and made sure she gave me the verses I would be reading in enough time to prepare myself to speak of her and her passing. It was an honor that they wanted ME to speak, but I was shaking, terrified. I knew how many people I would be facing at her service and that everyone in attendance felt loved by her, and love for her, the same way I did. The mere thought had me sick, nervous and I knew I had to find a bible because I WAS NOT going to mess that up. Every word said properly and no stuttering or stammering. I had never replaced the bible I left in my marriage and divorce and ended up at my mother’s house asking her to help me look it up in her bible. I hoped she would be able to explain it to me if I didn’t get it. Even though I WAS going to mass every Sunday at that time; and my boys were also altar servers, my relationship with the Bible as God’s word consisted of verses said at mass and explained by the priest as he gave his homily. My single-mother lifestyle at that time focused on my boys and left no time for trying to read and understand the bible, until that moment.

We found the verse and I began to read it aloud to my mother. “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…” My mother stopped me with a gasp and shudder to tell me that I had better practice those verses and know them. “You’re going to have to say that in front of the whole family and everyone who loves her. That tells too much truth about who she was and if you don’t know it by heart seeing everyone upset at knowing this and losing her is going to upset you.” I went out and got a new bible that night. My Nanny was such a great virtuous woman, even my mother admired her for that. To get that from her, a woman who knew how to place herself above others, brought back to me just how special and wonderful Nanny ALWAYS was and I began working on myself so that I was as close as I could get to the virtuous path my Nanny walked.

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