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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My mother’s mother, Ruth Kay, died last night. She was 95 years old. Her grandchildren called her “Nanny” when they were young, then “Nan.” Her three great-grandchildren knew her as “G.G.” for “great-grandma.”

Nan’s husband, Sam, aka “Papa,” died of a heart attack in 1983.

nan 3

Me with Nan and Papa in the 1970s.

Papa died just a few weeks before my 16th birthday. He must have felt it coming because he insisted that he and Nan give me the gold bangle they’d got me early. I still have it, of course.


The left frame shows the inscription. The right shows the bracelet on my arm today. Click to enlarge.

Nan had been unwell for quite a while. I think Mother’s Day in 2012 was her last good outing.


Mother’s Day 2012. Click for my original post.

Nan’s survivors include her two daughters: my mother, BarbaraB, and Mom’s younger sister Susan.  Her grandchildren are me; my younger sister, Terri Berry; and Susan’s son, our cousin Gary.


The ladies in the family, circa 2000. From left: Susan, Terri, Nan, me, BarbaraB.

Her great-grandchildren are Sammy, Sebastian and Sabrina. All the “S” names were inspired by Papa’s first name.

nan 1

Nan at my wedding in 2001.

I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do enjoy contemplating what the ideal one would be. I’ve decided that it would be an A+ version of a typical day. So, in my imagination, Nan is on her way to the local beauty parlor where she will get the Best! Hairdo! Ever! while having a good gossip. Then she’s going to go home and make excellent potato latkes and very dry sponge cake for Papa.  I explained this concept to my gorgeous friend Stacy and she said, “I hope your Nan figures out how to make her cake less dry!” I said no way — Papa won’t recognize her if the cake is different! Besides, it’s an A+ day, so he’ll praise it more than ever.

RIP, Nan.

UPDATED TO ADD: I guess I was so shocked by this news that I forgot to share my No. 1 Nan story. Luckily, BarbaraB reminded me of it. I was Nan’s first grandchild. After I was born, Nan was brought to the nursery to take a look at me. She then turned to my mother’s doctor and declared:


The doctor was all, “Um … I take it this is your first grandchild?” Nan was like, “Yeah, and she’s a genius.”

Nan must have told me this a thousand times during my childhood. Thanks for having faith in my smarts, Nan!

UPDATED AGAIN TO ADD: BarbaraB wrote, “She and Papa adored you. You used to sit on her back. When you got excited and kicked your feet, Papa would love it so. He said, ‘She just crawls into your heart.” Nan gave you a string to play with and it kept you busy while you marveled at it. She also sang ‘Us on a Bus.’ And gave you and Terri farmer cheese.”

She gave me farmer cheese right up until the day she had to move out of her house a couple of years ago. I still think farmer cheese is the best.


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40 Responses to “Ruth Kay: 1918 – 2014”

  1. Louise says:

    My deepest condolences on the loss of your dear Nan.

  2. Stacy says:

    What a beautiful woman (love her at your wedding) and beautiful family. So glad you have the bracelet. And obviously Nan was a smarty for recognizing your genius 😉

    So sorry for your loss, she sounded like an incredible lady.

    RIP Nan.

  3. Patti says:

    So sorry for your loss of Nan. She was a big supporter, and we need all the supporters we can get. I hope her heaven is just as you wrote!

  4. Lynn says:

    In the 2012 photo, I see that Nan was wearing your heart necklace. So sweet.

    Atheist blessings to you and your family.

  5. déjà pseu says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear Nan. Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories of her.

  6. Christine says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your Nan sounds like a real cracker, and i hope she’s making that extra dry cake right now for your Papa.

    Christine xoxo

  7. Patt says:

    My sympathy to you and your family for your loss. Thank you for sharing your fond memories of your Nan!

  8. Jennine says:

    Oh Wendy, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.

  9. Thank you for these wonderful stories of your Nan! My condolences and all kindest thoughts to you and your family, WendyB.

  10. Susan Partlan says:

    So very sorry to hear this sad news. Your dear Nan sounds like a wonderful person. And farmer cheese is the absolute best cheese ever. Sending love and hugs to you and your family Wendy. xoxo

  11. This is awesome! Such wonderful old stories and photos — what a beautiful tribute to your Nan.

  12. GeorgeB says:

    Lovely. Farmer cheese with raisins or plain?

  13. So very sorry for your loss, dear Wendy. Grandmas always have a special place in our hearts…and I know your “Nan” will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

  14. HelOnWheels says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Your Nan sounds like an amazing woman.

    And farmer cheese is THE BEST!!

  15. AK says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. How wonderful that you have so many great memories of her. Wishing you and your family peace and comfort.

  16. Kait says:

    Thanks for sharing her with us. Sorry for the loss of her.

  17. K-Line says:

    Your nan is no doubt one of the women in your life who taught you to kick ass. What a lovely tribute and I am thinking of you (and your family) at this time. Kxxo

  18. Aww Wendy, I am sorry for your loss! But I am so glad you have such fond memories and got so much time with your grandmother!

  19. Suzanne says:

    So sorry for your loss. What lovely memories you have of her though.


  20. So sorry for your loss, lovely tribute. I still miss my “mama” even though (she passed too young), when I was 11 or 12. Grandmothers can be so amazing, I wish I could write about her life but I’m too selfish & like keeping her amazing, although bittersweet life all to myself (and my family.) XXX