My Nana was one of my favorite people. She spent most of her time reading and doing crossword puzzles. She suffered from back pain as long as I knew her. She rubbed many people the wrong way, coming off as snobby and judgemental. But she loved me and I loved her. A black and white photo of her sits on my desk reminding me of that abiding feeling of unconditional love I experienced with Nana.
Nana had a beautifully chiseled jawline, a strong nose, and high cheekbones. She had a long neck and thin arms and legs which she accentuated by wearing solid colors, often black. I remember her most in black turtlenecks with a large artistic necklace hanging right at her sternum.
In addition to her long thin arms and legs, Nana had a hard, round stomach which got bigger as she got older. It was there in my first memory of her which meant that she was in her early fifties. I remember her little round belly growing over the years. Nana never wore loose clothes. She never donned moo-moos or loose blouses. She always wore close-fitting knits that showed her whole body.
I have many of the same characteristics that my Nana had — thin arms and legs, a long neck. Like Nana, I love to read. I’m in my early fifties now and I notice my body changing. Last night lying in bed I said to my partner, “I feel like my butt migrated to my stomach.” She laughed in agreement and understanding. She too is experiencing this physical shift in her body.
Whatever butt meat I had before has left the room, walked across the hall, and made itself comfortable in a circle right around my belly button. When I wear high-waisted pants now the waistband has a little platform to sit on. My belly isn’t that big yet, but if I follow Nana’s path, it will only get bigger.
I remember Nana’s belly. It seemed so out of place with the rest of her body. I have images of her in her black bathing suit — long arms and legs, strong, pronounced collar bones, and a little paunch right at the belly. I regularly accompanied Nana to the swimming pool on the top floor of their apartment building so she could do her physical therapy exercises. She’s put a volleyball under each armpit and float while she moved her legs to release the tension in her back.
My belly isn’t always pronounced. Around my period it gets bigger. If I have gas it grows. But it’s always there, no matter how much weight I lose, the shape of my body doesn’t change — long, thin arms and legs and a little butt belly.