A Priceless Gift from Nans to Anna


Sometimes I call my mom “Nans” just to be obnoxious and because I think it is a cute nickname for “Nancy.”  The name Nancy is not too common in recent times but I like it!  This summer the Fancy Nancy books are coming to Disney Channel and I secretly hope that Elsa and cousin Audrey get hooked and the name makes a comeback.

When not playing, reading, singing and dancing with the little Joys we beached, shopped, searched for treasures, and fiddled around the house adding special touches found here or there.

Nans has a gift of interior design that she shared with me (a gift from her mother) and so whenever she visits I am excited to show her what “I have done” with the house and what I am currently in search of.

Nans has a huge heart for animals and so Esmerelda (our Cat) is always happy to see her when she comes to town. Her dog Duncan is often the topic of conversation. I encourage her to bring him but once a year she takes him to visit his friends at the Doggy Daycare (giving herself a bit of vacation too!) where they send her emails with pictures of his daily activities. With pride Mom promptly shares the sweet pictures and notes with us.

Elsa may have inherited her kind heart and love of animals. She enjoys her chore of “Feeding Kitty” after preschool, and likes to set her dolls or toys gently near the cat while playing. Enzo is more fearful of Esme and other cats or dogs (which could be a stage) but Elsa has always had an inherent pull toward animals. Elsa wants to take horseback riding lessons, which I am eager to see. I wonder if she would be so brave with such a large animal. I will keep you posted!img_7012

My mom Nancy is pretty fancy (As evident in the Democrat and Chronicle pictures below!) but the nickname Nans is not as sophisticated.  I draw out the “A” sound like an upstate New Yorker and imitate HAL calling her from the top of the stairs.  It makes me smile!

As a child her father gave her the nickname “Nanner-cat”  which may be the cutest nickname ever.  I have never heard anyone call her that, and always wonder what that would like and sound like to see a little Nans light up at the sound of her fathers endearment.


My grandfather Phillip Works passed away before I was born, and so I take every opportunity to learn more about him, and my Mom’s life before me, or during the times I was too young to remember.   I see a strong resemblance between Enzo and Nans,  here are a few of my favorite pictures of her as a little one.

Gram told me she and my grandfather would play cards at night until she would grow frustrated and storm off.  Gram said he would say “Oh Elizabeth come back down” and she would cool off and come back downstairs for another game of Gin Rummy.  I can hear his voice calling her back down and wonder if it sounds anything like I imagine it.  I can see my young, vibrant, beautiful and feisty Gram throwing up her hands at the defeat, touching up in the powder room and making a triumphant comeback to the den for one more round (and cocktail!)


Gram and Mom



Fancy Nancy

Some other nicknames for Nans are Nans-Ina and Mama-Cita which are mostly reserved for my brother Tom, though they are not exclusive.  When she mentioned to my brother that she was Charleston bound he referred to me as Anna.  That is my family nickname, and I hadn’t heard it in a while!  My sister, Mom and (obviously) brother call be Anna which comes from my middle name Anne.  Do you have a childhood or family nickname that you would be surprised to hear at this moment in your life, or alternatively that you long to hear again?Something about being called Anna brought back emotions from my childhood in a flood that rushed straight to my heart piercing and releasing a whirlwind of memories, thoughts and feelings.

When Nans visits I catch myself saying something in anger, resentment or jealously seemingly out of nowhere that I would never say to another person.  Immediately I feel the guilt and shame of my harsh words.

This happened sitting on our porch one hot summer night. “What about me, Mom?” was the gist of my words, but they came out like venom strewn from a 14 year old Anna full of accusation and rage.

Her face was a face I do not think I have ever seen before, and as I write this it brings tears.  In her face I saw an openness and sadness that I have never recognized or acknowledged before. There was honesty and vulnerability on both sides as we sat on the porch as two women and talked.

I have never understood or loved my mother more than I did (and do!) at that moment.  I have a new and deeper understanding of her perspective and can say, I think “I get it.”  It’s difficult to articulate because it is not really forgiveness but more of an acceptance and understanding for which I have always longed.  I feel and hope that our relationship will continue to blossom as “grown-ups” and can say the more I get to know this woman (That I thought I knew so well) the more I realize I don’t, and the more respect and gratitude I have for her courage and sacrifice.

Thanks Mom (A-hem Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaans!)

Sending love to you and yours from sunny Summerville SC,




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