Nana’s Red Beads

70 years love.

I am moving. Homes. I packaged up my crafts, two decades old most of them, tidy along basement shelves, and donated them to my high school Arts Group. At the bottom of a green bin, wrapped in a mesh bag, I found this heart-pulling, lovely bead garland. My Nana’s. Nana.

I miss her.

So much of Nana was every bit the opposite of me. She had bright sea blue eyes. She was tiny. And she was most often calm. Oh, though, we were so similar. Perhaps we to became similar. Perhaps we carried deep in our hearts similar stories. Nana.

I remember laying on her sofa the months of grade six, my first journey into long illness. I remember the quiet, it clung to grandpa’s cigarette smoke, and the staccato television voices walking us through yet another ballgame. I’d lay on the sofa and rub her hands between mine. Her frail legs crossed. Rub the smooth cool softness of her filed practical clean nails, clear coated.

Comfort in the repetition. Maybe I found healing there. My Nana’s sofa. The fogged silence.

It was her.

She had a way of saying, “Yes Dear,” that offered certainty, she understood.

I remember my Mom deciding her tree at the cabin needed to be gold, and Mom placing the beads aside. All things more generationally practical, I suppose, like giving away my crafts today, the red beads had surved their time.

But I had watched them dance around Nana’s tree. I had dared to touch them when I was not yet in school and the smoke in the apartment was think and I could get away with it. I had belly laughed as I had hung them in a place of honour, standing on scaffolding Dad had set up at the cabin the year the tree was so tall it touched to top of the loft.

The beads. Three generations of Wiens Women. The cord holding them coated with wax, to strengthen.


I was sharing with a friend tonight about packing up the basement. Like Nana might have done all those years ago, especially my post Mayo years, my friend asked me what had I learned this year.

I am strong enough to risk.

I held Nana’s beads a long while. I stood and wrapped them around me like a cloak. I brought them home with me. And I am not packing them away. Not right away.

I want to look at them. I want to touch them when risking seems scary. And it’s not. I want them to remind me to dance. And I want to look at them and more than anything, I want to laugh out loud.


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