I was 4 the year my Nana died. She was my best friend. We had tea parties in the backyard under the old elm tree on a little "luster" tea set. And I got to tell her what to do!
"Nana, this one is for you - the rest are for me. You don't want to get a tummy ache - cookies are not good for you."
And she would smile and say, "Yes, Matchie." That is what she called me. Nana was "from Germany." I didn't know what that meant but it must have been important because everyone always said it when they spoke of her.
Pictured is Marjory Diehl’s “Nana,” Fredrica Timerick, in 1896.
Nana had a beautiful wicker wheelchair but she didn't ride in it. It was too big. My daddy took a kitchen chair and put wheels on it and it was just right. I got to help push her to our little tea table under the elm and poured the milk in our cups and almost always had to drink hers - and I probably ate her cookie.
There were three chairs at the table: Nana's with wheels, my little blue one and a yellow one for Teddy. He was very sad because one of his arms was broken and he couldn't eat cookies. I gave him milk in a spoon and he smelled bad.
Did I tell you about my Bi-Lo Baby? (The Bi-Lo Baby Doll was a popular children's toy in the 1920s - now can be seen in antique shops). She was so pretty in her white dress and pink basket. Nana always held her on her lap and rubbed her little bald head and called her "liebchen" or "kindlein." I knew she loved her and so did I. Bi-Lo Baby came to live with us on my birthday in August. Mother said Nana thought she was her baby. That was all right so long as she was careful. Bi-Lo Baby was china like my tea set.
My mother said Nana and Teddy and Bi-Lo Baby and I would be having our tea party in the kitchen from now on because it was going to be cold and the elm would lose its leaves and we would catch cold.
I didn't think I wanted one and so in September our tea parties moved inside and the tree threw its leaves on the ground.
Nana and I took a nap every afternoon and when we got up we went to the nice warm kitchen for our tea party. I didn't know what September meant - or October or November, but I did know about December. People did nice things to their doors and yards and it would snow so Santa could fly across the sky and bring presents.
Nana and Teddy and I laid down for our naps and when I got up it was almost dark. Mother was ironing in the kitchen and it was so hot in the kitchen. She had tears on her cheeks and I think she was very sad.
"Nana!" I called and ran to her room, but she was not there.
Mother came and picked me up and said, "Nana had to go away."
"But I want her! Make her come home!"
"Honey, she can't come back. It would make Baby Jesus very sad. She will be having tea parties with him now. We must be happy for her."
"No! I want to see her! She loves me! She won't leave without saying goodbye! Bi-Lo Baby loves her, too. We need her!"
And with that, I burst into tears. My mother sat down to comfort me and rocked me until I went to sleep.
I know now it was Christmas Eve when my Nana died. We went that night to the funeral home to say goodbye. I wore my black velvet coat and my white fox muff because it was cold. There was a big lump under it.
Nana was asleep. She looked so happy and I smiled at her when my daddy held me up to see her. I took Bi-Lo Baby from under my coat and put it beside her.
My mother scolded me, "Oh no, Marjory, you can't do that. Nana can't have your baby!"
I said, "But I'm sending it to Baby Jesus!"
Mr. Vanderslice, who was the undertaker, came close and hugged me and said that I was a sweet little girl to think of it and that he would see that the baby stayed with Nana.
I often wonder what someone, someday will think when we are all dust and a little china doll in a pink basket is found in an old cemetery.
Marjory Diehl, 91, is a resident of Brocton.