My Grandmother the Spy

Today would have been my grandmother’s (insert milestone number here) birthday.

Yes, Nanny, I’m sure they can guess the number. Go ahead, send the lightning strike!

Nanny and Poppy - the dating years.

Nanny and Poppy – the dating years.

Nanny, as we affectionately referred to her, was age-phobic. I’m not talking a little number shaving, covert birthday candle removal – I’m talking take it to the grave top-secret info. I’m sure she had a birth certificate, but no one ever saw it – and if they did, well, let’s just say she lived in New Jersey – plenty of spots to dump the body.

Her age was off limits – no exceptions, even her tombstone, date of death ONLY! And despite her imposing 4”11 frame, we feared the Wrath of Nanny and avoided the taboo subject at all costs.

When I was 10, Nanny tagged along on our family vacation to Cape Cod, MA – we shared a hotel room. I should mention, my budding storyteller’s gene came into full bloom that summer, and Nanny planted the seed.

*Click* *Lights out*

Me:   Nanny, how old are you?

Nanny: Why do you want to know?

Me: I just do.

Nanny: It’s a secret.

Me:  How come?

Nanny: Because every woman needs a secret and that’s mine; now go to sleep.

Me: I can’t sleep.

Nanny: Try.

I did try, FOR HOURS, or possibly five minutes – I was ten, time was not something I measured well. However, somewhere between Nanny’s first snores and the rattling ice machine my crater-wide imagination went into overdrive, and before I could blink my grandmother, the women who stuffed tissues up her sleeve and could find every public restroom on the East coast, was a SPY!

A)     Never seen her birth certificate or drivers license = Nanny probably isn’t her REAL name!Nan O showing Leg

B)      Claims to be born in Finland = Spies love Finland.

C)      Keeps her hair in a box = Disguise.

D)     Drinks half a cup of coffee at a time = Planning a quick getaway.

E)      Black, thick soled shoes = Hiding weapons? (I was a Get Smart fan.)


This went on for a while…but when I woke up the next morning I wasn’t curious about Nanny’s age anymore – it was the Orthopedic Shoes of Doom that intrigued me.

Tell me - does this scream Bond girl or what? Nanny is the spy on the left.

Tell me – does this scream Bond girl or what? Nanny is the spy on the left.


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