The Things I’ve Learned From Nanas

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Photography by Juliette Seymour

I spent many summers in Upstate New York with my Nana.  Spending the days devouring books by V.C Andrews or ‘helping’ in her stained glass shop – which really meant breaking things.  But the nights were my favorite.  Staying up late in her kitchen, I perched on a kitchen stool at a small movable island, she leaned against the stove, glass of wine in her hands.

We talked.

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photography by Juliette Seymour

We talked about everything.  She told me embarrassing stories from her past, dealing with anorexia, nearly being raped as a little girl,  sexual harassment, and her hope that things are better for me.  I tell her how many things have not changed, how people still don’t understand the word “no”, things I was afraid to tell my mother.  I told her.

One summer night we got on the topic of abortion, “ I’ve been to the abortion clinic four times,” holding up four of her long fingers

“And I have four daughters.”

Those words rattled about my head for the rest of the summer.  I knew that it was a right I felt I needed to protect.  It was not something that only “those” types of women did, it was something my mother and aunts did.  A choice that perhaps I would have to make, that anyone with a uterus would have to make.

With what little money I had left from that summer I donated it to Planned Parenthood.

I felt like a little activist.  Like I was making a change.

(Left to right) Mom, Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Me

(Left to right) Mom, Great Grandmother, Oliver the Dog, Nana, Me

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