The original Catherine Durkin (Kitty to friends) was my Nana.
As I remember it…
She was born in 1909.
She always told me that I’m responsible for my own good time.
When she was in her teens and twenties, guys would hang out of their office windows to watch her get off the bus and walk into work as an operator.
She wore her engagement ring on the “other” hand, for ten years, because she thought eighteen years of age was too young to get married.
It’s a long story, but she used to go dancing, sometimes with two different dates in one night during this time. My grandpa let her get her youth out of the way while she was young. The only man to ever “double date” her was John O’Malley. His second date that night was Nana’s sister – Aunt Alice. John became Uncle John. One of my greatest treasures is the two of them on video telling this story…
When Nana finally walked down the aisle at 28, she wore a blue velvet wedding gown.
My grandpa used to say, “She may not always be right. But she’s never wrong.”
When her youngest son, my Uncle Bobby, almost drowned as a child, she took him back a week or two later and made him get in the water so he wouldn’t be afraid of swimming for the rest of his life.
After giving birth to six kids, most people, and society, in the late 1940s/early 1950s, thought she should stay home with them. Instead, she went to nursing school.
People thought she was nuts.
She used to tell me, “I did my own thing.”
She had stopped going to school in the 9th grade, so when the nursing school asked to see her transcripts, she told them her high school had burned to the ground. She got into nursing school, graduated, and became a nurse. All without a high school diploma.
She said Oil of Olay “puts hair on your face” and insisted on Clinique instead.
As she got older, she lost her sight and had to deal with arthritis, and a million other ailments, but she never EVER complained.
Nothing stopped her from walking a half mile every day to shop, grab a cup of coffee at McDonald’s, or do anything else she damn well felt like doing.
She told me that just because you have a pain, doesn’t mean you need to be one.
During one of her yearly visits, she was out walking and a police officer pulled over to the side of the road because an elderly woman had escaped a nursing home. After five minutes with Kitty, he knew she wasn’t the nursing home type.
She used to dance around the house when I played Whitesnake on the stereo.
I only liked westerns when I watched them with her.
She would rock me, as a baby, in a sling wrapped around her body so she wouldn’t drop me. If she put me down to sleep, I’d wake up and yell about it. So she kept me wrapped to her the entire night.
This explains a lot about the both of us.
From the time I was five years old, she would say to me, “Catherine – count to ten before you say something…and then don’t say it.”
When Jacob was born, he did certain things like her – certain mannerisms – that made my mom, me and my sister smile.
She died in 1998.
She lives on in all of us.