Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sad news

One of the most nurturing and comforting figures in my life was Nellie, who took care of our house and helped raise my brothers and me. She worked for my family for almost 30 years, and passed away this morning. She was 91.

I last saw her during my most recent trip to St. Louis, my hometown, two years ago. My brother and I brought her lunch and hung out for a bit. I suspected at the time, given her age and the infrequency of my visits to St. Louis, that this visit might be the last time I would see her, and so it is. I'm glad she was around long enough for us to spend some quality time as adults.

Nellie embodied open-armed kindness. She picked us up from school, made our after-school snacks and played with us, in addition to cleaning the house (which was no small task). A majority of the time I spent with her was when I was home on summer vacation, or home sick from school. We particularly liked playing along with "The Price is Right." (When I finally saw a taping of the show out in LA in 2003, I got her a Price is Right t-shirt, which I think she appreciated.) She'd even write to me when I was away at summer camp ... which makes me wonder whether I have those letters somewhere. I'll have to look when next I'm at my parents' house. I'm skeptical. Anyway, throughout my various growing pains and family dysfunctions, Nellie was a stable source of love and order.

It's funny, but I was just thinking about Nellie this morning. I was out of coffee, so I went to the market on the corner for a cup. I usually add just one packet of sugar; I grabbed it and then decided to put it back. Instead, I poured loads of sugar from the glass container -- I was just in the mood to treat myself to very sweet coffee. And I thought of Nellie because when I was very little, she'd make me a little cup of the grown-ups' coffee and make it tolerable by adding tons of sugar. It was so sugary it was actually sticky. I thought of that this morning and smiled. Who knows -- that might have been right around the time she passed away.


  1. Very touching. I had a similar experience where I thought of my uncle for a bit at just about the moment that he passed away. It was good thoughts at that time, too.

    Glad you got to see her in your adulthood and that you got to be on Price is Right - I used to love that show when I was younger.

  2. I am SO terribly sorry to hear of Nellie's loss. I can only take comfort that she was able to see you boys grow up and that she lived to such a lucky old age. I remember you mentioning her over the years, but wasn't aware she had played such a wonderful role in your life. I would love to chat with you about her and hear some great memories you had together over the years, this is very sad news indeed. My sincere heart-felt condolences for the loss of such a caring individual, I'm glad you were able to have her in your life, I'm sure she meant so much to all of you. Big hugs.