The Legacy of My Grandmother: "Momma Nan"

The Legacy of My Grandmother: "Momma Nan"
Mama Nan

On this Mother’s Day weekend I need to give credit to a woman who lead our family with strength, faith, love & devotion.

My grandmother Nannie Scott, was a matriarch, she’s been gone 20 years this past February but her words still lead me. She had sayings like “Just keep on living”, when you asked about problems in life.

I grew up less than 10 minutes away from her, she and my step granddad “Daddy LeRoy”, were over on 126th near State on the south side and my family was a little west of there on 123rd & Morgan on the other side of Halsted.

Momma Nan was a native of Louisville, KY and pronounced it “Louville”, she was a true southern woman and spoke slowly and didn’t yell, she was small in stature but made up for it in her presence.

If she told you to do something you asked when and how and “you didn’t give her any lip”.

And as kids if she wanted a kiss, she said to “give her some sugar”, of course we thought that was funny but that’s just how she was, she was unapologetic about where she was from.

She worked for years at Spiegel’s Catalog (remember them?), on 35th Street, Daddy LeRoy drove her to and from work every day (talk about dedication), and he had two bad knees from years of being a union carpenter.

Her church was Coppin A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal), on 56th and Michigan, near where my dad was raised, they lived over on Wabash (until the early 1970’s), and my parents were married at Coppin.

She kept her house on 126th Street immaculate despite the family was constantly visiting, eating, sleeping over, etc.

How she did that I’ll never know, I don’t have visitors in my place (just a toddler son), and it’s a train wreck.

That house on 126th street was small, little 2 bedroom, one bathroom ranch, but man she made it feel like the biggest house on the south side.

When I was little, she and Daddy LeRoy had New Year’s Parties that you had to attend (more like you wanted to attend), everyone in family was there, the food was great and some drinks but she didn’t imbibe and talked about you if you did.

But her biggest gift was her heart, her door was always open, as we aged and if you needed a place to stay, she always had the back room for you.

My cousin Ricky and my own brother Kevin spent many nights there, my cousin Marilyn and her sons Davon & Mike (R.I.P.), were there too and it was no shame to be there, it was a second home.

She didn’t judge, she made sure we were all taken care of.

And she never asked for much, when I got older my dad and I (later just me), would do her yard work and still there was always a steady line of relatives coming by or neighbors checking on her.

I was at DePaul University by then but she kept me in line for I had to budget my time to make sure her house was taken care of.

All she asked for was Neapolitan ice cream from Walgreens and two White Castles, yes just two.

There was no such thing as a “quick visit” over there, she wanted to talk and then you never knew who else would stop by.

I’d be there working (and my dad would be fixing something), and next thing you know half a dozen people are there, we got the grill going in the back and people on the front steps too. Her house was special and full of love and we all wanted to be part of it.

Man she was so simple, never wanted much but gave so much to everyone.

I miss her simplicity, her love, her words that were supportive but she could give some tough love too. But that’s it, it was always love.

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum, class of 1999 and prior to that Brother Rice class of 1994. . And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say, feel free to email charles.w.johnson@hotmail.com

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