Thursday, December 25, 2008

Remembering Naggy

When I moved back to Michigan, I was unsure I would like living here and had no idea how to connect with anyone. Until I moved into an apartment in a chopped-up old Victorian house upstairs from Naggy. (Her mother named her Agnes, but Naggy told me the name just didn’t take.) We started with nods or "hello's," moved on to the weather, then came family, and, finally, we were friends.
Naggy was eighty-years-old, swore as she said her rosary, observed a Saturday Sabbath and owned a lovely 18th century Thai Buddah, "Just in case."

Christmas day was looking all lovely in white lace and diamonds that year when I shoveled the steps of my building and headed over to Naggy's with goodies. She never cooked, only baked, so I made all of her favorite real foods and packaged them in Gladware.
(I found the best present for a woman who knew everything: A highly inaccurate, but very entertaining, biography on Lucretia Borzia [sic.] published in 1852 and bound in tacky red leather with a gold-tooled death's head grinning unconcernedly from the cover.)

We sat down in her tiny front room (I want one just as interestingly cluttered when I grow up. She even has a plaque from a London taxi commemorating the time it got hit in the Blitz.) and had slurry-thick coffee only old and young fools of the bookish kind can stand.

Toward the end of the visit I asked how she was going to put in her day. She looked out the window a minute, turned to me and said she missed snow angels. I looked out the window a minute, turned to her and asked what she wanted to do about it.

Naggy waddled outside behind me bundled from ankle to neck in fur, wearing a hat made of several dead pheasants and a quantity of brown ribbon and REEKING of moth balls. We made snow angels. We made several. And we laughed hard the whole while and whooped to no end. It was one of the best Christmas mornings ever.

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