I recently got my first tattoo and it is a different type of fashion that I kept at bay for such a long time. What happened was my grandmother passed during the Christmas holiday season and my family was gathering for the funeral and memorial service. My daughter had the idea to get a tattoo of my grandmother’s signature. When my cousin, mother, and step sister heard about this they wanted to get one as well. I was the last one to agree. I wanted some symbolism of my grandfather on my father’s side since we were close. Therefore, I was still thinking about it but felt I was going to end up with two names when my cousin suggested I get two lavender stalks underneath my Joyce signature. We all called her Nanny Maxine. That was a great idea so I went for that one. Maxine’s last name was Joyce.
I wanted to write this post also because it is rather rare for a 54-year-old woman to have a grandmother. I was lucky she lived to be 95 and to get to know her better through the last few years since we always lived rather far away from her and my grandfather when I was growing up. For five years we lived in Europe during the time I was 7 to 12. During that time my two grandmothers came to visit but I didn’t see my grandfather, Rufus T Lavender and my other grandfather, Maxine’s husband Lester had passed away when I was 7. I loved to get my grandparent’s letters whenever they wrote me and I learned a lot from them when I was a teenager and got to visit them again after we moved back to the United States. Both my grandmothers loved to sew. Both of my grandfathers were creative as well.
My Nanny Maxine liked to sew clothing that was fashionable in France, for instance, and my mother grew up wearing some very lovely dresses as a result. I attached two photos of my nanny with my mother when she was young and most likely my grandmother sewed those dresses.
My Nanny also loved to garden. She spent many years growing up on a farm and that “farm stock” as it is called is what made her tough and got her through a lot of hard times in life. When she was a teenager her father and a sister died. Her mother went to beauty school to learn a trade. Later on, when her mother finished beauty school she spent the afternoons helping out at the beauty parlor. She worked hard at a young age to help out and she was a person who loved to laugh and joke around despite the losses she had endured. I will always remember her laughter.
I learned to enjoy crafts and appreciate handmade things from all of my grandparents. My Nanny Maxine just so happened to live the longest of them all and we were very blessed to have her company for many years. My nanny had two children and she helped my grandfather when he built homes. She had a mind for helping layout electrical plugs in a way that didn’t create extension cords showing up everywhere. When her husband passed away she took a job selling children’s wear in retail. She helped raise my cousin Star as well and was a loving grandma to me, my brother and my cousin Laura. She also had three great-grandchildren. The picture of the sailor doll is a doll my Nanny made for my mother when she was a little girl. Her father was away in the war and therefore my mother didn’t know what her daddy looked like. She carried the doll around since she knew her daddy was a sailor.
The picture of the sailor doll is a doll my Nanny made for my mother when she was a little girl. Her father was away in the war and therefore my mother didn’t know what her daddy looked like. She enjoyed carrying the doll around since she knew her daddy was a sailor. My mother must have been thrilled when she finally got to meet her daddy. He came home around the time she was four. In the meantime, my mother saw some other sailors but Nanny had to tell her those weren’t her father.
Later on in life my Nanny Maxine discovered she liked jazz music. Some jazz musicians came and played at her funeral. She wanted a party of sorts to celebrate her life. The pastor told about when she crawled around in the yard helping my mother plant bulbs. Despite her age and not being able to work in the garden regularly anymore she wanted to get involved. She kept pulling herself along and didn’t mind getting dirty.
I am happy with my tattoo. It was a bonding experience to get it done with so many family members and my mother went first. She is 75 and it was also a first for her. Even my step-sister Amanda decided to get a Joyce tattoo. The tattoo artist, Shauncey Fury, said one lady that comes into Hula Moon in Pensacola, Florida had never had a tattoo until after her husband and parents had passed. Apparently, her parents didn’t approve of tattoos. After one year the woman has had 69 tattoos. I am not planning on anymore for now but I thought this story was worth sharing. I hope you enjoyed this post!
Nanny with Emily, my daughter
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