Today marks the passing of my Nana. I swear I thought she’d out last each and every one of us…but alas, she fell asleep and didn’t wake up after 95 years.
My childhood wasn’t always pleasant but I do remember my Nana…married to a different man every time we saw her. Yes, she married often and probably loved them all. Many of her years played out in San Francisco. I remember summer vacations to the City by the Bay where we fried out skin of the 4th of July and walked up and down Market Street and played on the Embarcadero. One summer in particular sticks out above all. I was a teenager, and in need of unconditional love from my Grandmother. I spent an entire summer with her in her small one bedroom… one of those flats above a grocery store in the center of the city. She would take me to her favorite pub, Lefty O’Doul’s, which is still there by the way, and show off her granddaughter.
She worked at Foremost / McKesson which is now simply McKesson…she ran a switchboard and I remember then her being so cantankerous that I thought she’d be fired every single day of her employment. No, her fellow employees loved her…everything about her. She loved with all her heart and didn’t worry about tomorrow. She organized company parties…company cruises. She loved to take charge and didn’t put up with anyone’s shit! Ever!
She was there when my sister died at the tender age of nine and never forgot a birthday or Christmas.
In the picture above she arrived at my wedding wearing a flapper outfit… she was jovial as ever and couldn’t be happier to have her two sons and my mother in the same room. (It had been awhile) She fumed that I decided on black formal dresses for my bridesmaids… “It’s not a funeral, Catherine.” ~ But she taught me to be assertive to get what I wanted in this life. So I went with my gut and loved her anyway.
Somewhere in her 60’s she changed her name to Shamrock. Just like that she wanted everyone to call her Shamrock. And I loved her. I took the name she was born with…and not all those she married into. Especially not that last marriage…the one where she married a man ten years younger than my husband (Go Grandma!) ~
Bybee is her name and I hope to always honor it.
I will forever keep you in my heart, Nana.
I will forever keep you alive with your name.
In tribute: June “Shamrock” Bybee