October 1st was my Nana’s birthday. She would have been 92 this year but passed away in January 2017. She was Irish rather than Italian, but the proverb fits.
I tried to post on her birthday but it’s difficult to find words to express what she meant to me and how much I miss her presence in my life.
In my life, she was always present, even across the miles. She was a cheerleader, a confidante, a drill sergeant, and a comforter. She was matter of fact and blunt at times, but always honest and always wanting my best. My parents got separated and divorced when I was a kid and no matter what was going on with who, Nana was always there. When my dad passed away, she was one of the few people I could talk to about it and she’d listen and tell me stories. When I got married and divorced and met Tom on the internet and traveled across the country and then got married, she was there.
So how do you choose which memories to share when you have a lifetime of them? When none of them can encompass who she was or what she meant to the people who loved her? I have no idea. So I’ll just share a little of what comes to mind as I type this and maybe next year, I’ll share some more. I think putting pen to paper (or typing to screen) really helps you think through and process things so here goes.
So many things make me think of her. Plain Hershey chocolate bars, ice-cold Coca Cola in a can, Pall Mall cigarettes with lipstick on the tips, and Halston perfume, heating pads, those white cotton bedspreads that had a bumpy design all over them, cheater glasses, and leopard print, Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was her city and she loved it. Every time I’d bring someone new – a friend, my kiddos – she would drive us around showing us the sights, taking us to Mt. Washington to ride the incline. I don’t even know how many times I’ve ridden that thing. When you were there, everything was about spending time with you.
Her family was everything to her. And people gravitated around her and became “family”. She collected people like others collect things and made friends everywhere she went, always striking up conversations. She went to Grateful Dead concert once to see what it was about and, of course, met all the people that were sitting around them. She was always interested in hearing people’s stories.
Sometimes she would frustrate me like when I went to stay with her one summer while Tom was in MCSE training. I started walking to lose weight and she would go into drill sergeant mode and if I didn’t walk long enough, she was on me to get back out there and suck it up. Or I’d show up for a visit and she’d say, “You need a haircut.” and she’d make an appointment right away with Lou to go get it done. Or she’d take me to get some school clothes and boy was she blunt – no, that looks terrible. I don’t like that. But now, on this side of things, I’m glad she was tough on me. She was also a garage sale queen and always found the most beautiful, highest quality, designer things at bargain prices. When I was a kid, I HATED it but now, I hope I’m growing into that.
And SHE was tough. She wasn’t just talk. On one visit with a friend, she took us all over Pittsburgh, doing the tour, showing off Pittsburgh. I would later find out she had noticed blood in her urine but she waited until we left to go to the hospital – and had my grandfather just drop her at the hospital because it was no good him just waiting around the hospital. She went to work cleaning houses for a wealthy family and adopted them into her life and her into theirs. She watched their kids when the went out of town and they just loved her.
I can still hear her voice in my head, saying my name, “Krissy” (her pet name for me), and I miss calling her and talking to her.
My mom wrote a wonderful obituary for my Nana and that’s probably the best way to end this.
BACHMAN AUDREY MAE (McAULIFFE) Age 89, died, at peace, at home, in Somers Point, NJ, surrounded by her family, January 23, 2017. She was born October 1, 1927, to Daniel J. and Mary (Mame) McAuliffe, in Pittsburgh, PA., the youngest of three daughters. She went to grade school at Sacred Heart School in Emsworth, PA, where she met her lifelong friend, Marianne Monteverde, who survives her. She graduated from Avonworth High School, in Ben Avon, PA where she was a cheerleader and popular student. After graduation, she went to work for the telephone company as a switchboard operator until her marriage to Roger Bachman, December 27, 1947. Her sister-in-law, Donna Bachman Fischer, who also survives her, became her lifelong friend, a real sister in every way that counted. Audrey loved to read, sew, played bridge with great skill, and enjoyed dominoes. She loved to skate and to dance, both of which she did well. Audrey possessed a sharp, delicious wit, and she loved to laugh. She took great pleasure in her garden and delighted in the first real tomatoes of the season, her hostas, her daffodils. She loved a good bargain, was a champion garage sale /thrift store shopper and thrilled at her great finds, which she generously shared with friends and family. Audrey read her newspapers every day, and many magazines and books and had an insatiable curiosity about life. She never got lost, she went on adventures and had some remarkable experiences. She loved her hometown, Pittsburgh, PA and was very proud of its history and its revival. She loved the Steelers football team, and Pirate baseball. She was a basketball fanatic and watched the games throughout her life. She could and would, strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere, and people responded in the most remarkable ways. People would disclose all sorts of details about themselves and their lives, and within minutes of meeting her, no one was ever a stranger to Audrey. She made friends everywhere she went and many valued her counsel. They repaid her kindness with their own, and some were there to ease her passing. She always said she was blessed and so lucky to have had so many good people as her friends. Most of all, Audrey loved her family and the best times of her life found her surrounded by those who loved her, celebrating the milestones of their lives, and sharing stories and a good meal. She found her happiness in their happiness and delighted in their achievements. She made sure they knew how much she loved them and how proud they made her feel. She left all with that love and her best wishes for them and their futures. She was predeceased by her sisters, Peggy Wright, and Bette Sollar, her husband, Roger; her son-in-law, Tommy Repici; her granddaughter, Lorrie Chabosil Kaawar; and her great-granddaughter, Emily Robbins. She is survived by her four daughters, Sharon Pfahler (John), Terry Bachman (Mike), Aimee Repici (Tom) and Pollyann Bachman; her grandchildren, Krista L. Robbins (Tom), Kendra L. Wright (Brody), Thomas R. Repici (Jessica), Michael R. Repici, Matthew C. Repici (Vivianne) and Jonathan D. Repici; great-grandchildren, Angela Robbins, Andrew C. Robbins, Samuel W. Robbins, Brian S. Wright, Kaiya Wright, Jared Smith, Josh Kaawar, Cecelia Repici, Robert Repici, and great-great- granddaughter, Stella Williams.
Miss you, Nana!