See that darling lady in the wheelchair in the middle of that picture? The one with her mouth open because she wouldn’t quit talking long enough to take a picture? Well, that’s my Nanny. The genes from her side of my family are very strong, and so is the heritage. This was the very last family picture we took with her. Hoss had been home from Vanderbilt for 3 days. She loved her family, but she ADORED her great grandchildren!!
Nanny retired from JCPenney when it was still at East Gate Mall. She had a best friend named Ruth Wright who was a good 10 years younger and was also retired from JCPenney. I called them the Golden Girls. I don’t know how things work when you retire from JCPenney now, but back in their day, you got to keep your employee discount. Forever. No matter the sale price.
There came a day when Nanny could no longer see well enough to drive but she was plenty spry enough to want to go and Mrs. Ruth was more than able to drive, so go they did. Occasionally I would happen upon them on an adventure, usually going 25 mph in a 40, totally oblivious to the mile of traffic backed up behind them, wearing their cataract sunglasses and headed to lunch. They were wild things.
A couple of times a year JCPenney would have an associates shopping day, where the Golden Girls could get a little extra percentage off. Well, now. They were there! Those two women could spot a deal a mile away. They would hit the sale rack, get their associate’s discount, the extra special one day only discount, and sometimes combine it with a coupon from a mailer. Y’all, they would get things no one needed just for the thrill of the deal. Nothing made them more proud than to get a $40 item for $5.27.
Just like any good southern Golden Girls, they would cap off their day by having a leisurely lunch. It was a treat for them to ride the escalator up inside JCPenney and make their way across the mall to the Piccadilly. Now you know how hard it can be to navigate a cafeteria full of tables and chairs while carrying a tray with a plate of food and a drink, so you can imagine doing it when you are in your 80’s and not quite as agile as you once were. Good conversation might have also played a factor in not always being fully aware of your surroundings. Add to that a shopping bag with your latest treasure from JCPenney and a sensible black handbag that smells like Freedent chewing gum and you will totally be able to understand how Nanny became a thief.
You see, when she sat down with her lunch, she could not find her silverware on her tray. She was almost certain she had grabbed one of the napkin wrapped bundles, but there was not one on her tray. Chalking it up to having been distracted, a helpful waitress quickly fetched her a roll of silverware. After lunch, Mrs. Ruth delivered her safely home where she sat down in her chair, propped up her feet and may or may not have taken a little nap. Only later in the evening, when she unpacked her shopping bag full of “I don’t know who needs it, but it’s only $4.62” goodies did she find her silverware from the Piccadilly. Apparently, in her effort to navigate the dining room while toting and talking she had tipped her tray enough that her original silverware had rolled into her shopping bag! She was horrified that she had “stolen” the silverware and promptly returned it on their next Golden Girls adventure. Still, we teased her about there being easier ways to get new silverware than stealing it from the Piccadilly one place setting at a time!
Fast forward a good ten years. Hoss eats lunch at the dining hall at school everyday. He’s not the picky one, so he loves the variety. One day last week there was something on the lunch menu he didn’t think he would care for and he had been begging to take lunch like his Bubba, so I sent him lunch. ABC’s and 123’s with meatballs, some grapes and cheese and some mini chips ahoy. I DID NOT send a spoon because they have those at school. He loved it! It was the thrill of his week. As soon as he got in the car he told me all about lunch. As soon as we got home and I opened his lunchbox, I realized that he may not have had the privilege of really knowing Nanny, of eating her cooking, hearing her hum while she washed dishes or playing with extra dough while she made biscuits, but he absolutely got her genes. And that is the story of how Hoss became a thief.