Here they are, just as I always remember them. Nana and Jack. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the term “Jack” was actually a first name and not a term similar to “grandma” or “grandpa”. To me, it is still a term of endearment, and I say “Nana and Jack” the same way most people would lovingly say “grandma and grandpa”.
Nana was the inspiration behind my love of family history. Being the first great-grandchild, and the only one for about four years, I had a special place with her, and she with me. As we moved around the province somehow mom and dad ensured I still had some quality time with Nana and Jack. When we finally settled down when I was seven, we settled within an hour or so drive of them, and so began regular weekend visits. I would arrive there Friday and stay until Sunday when they would bring me home. I would sit on the sofa next to Nana in her soft mustard yellow chair that rocked, she would stroke my hair, and tell me stories of the “old country”, of her family there, of her growing up and of her time when she first arrived in Canada. There were times I would get impatient and insist “I know, I know” when she would start a story I had heard many times before, but she was so patient with me. Undoubtably I will relate some/many of these stories as time goes on here in this blog, some of which I was lucky enough to get on audio tape.
Jack had some stories too, not quite as many, but also very interesting. He had grown up in Manitoba on a farm, part of a large family. The Depression came, and as the family struggled, at age 16, he left home to make it on his own, one less mouth to feed at home. He “rode the rails” for some time, and held some interesting jobs. And finally, he met nana. So why “Jack” instead of “great-grandpa”. Well, he was nana’s second husband, and although they had been married over 20 years by the time I was born, the family had just gotten used to calling him “Jack” I guess. That means, of course, he’s not strictly speaking a relative of mine, by blood. But of course he is…to me he is my great-grandfather, and I do research his family line as well as the great-grandfather whose DNA I share but who I never met.
Nana and Jack. How I miss them. How lucky I was to have had them in my life.