The past month or so I have been thinking a lot about my Nanner (Daddy’s Mom), Susie Seletyn. Today’s photos were dedicated to her and I thought I would jot down a couple of my favorite thoughts. It dawned on me that I do not know the origin of her nickname, Susie. She was born Nellie Beatrice Rice. I messaged my Sister and she didn’t know either. I reached out to Uncle Bill and he said he didn’t know either, however Grandpa Fred called her Bea. I smile as I think about that. I did not know Grandpa Fred as he passed away before I was in the picture. I have very few stories of him. I regret not asking Dad to talk about him.
Nellie Beatrice Rice 27 Oct 1924 in the Cherry Creek District of Eastland, Tennessee. She married Fred James Seletyn on Dec 6, 1941 (the day before Pearl Harbor). If one were doing the math, five months later my Dad was born. She gave birth to seven children, one set of twins. The twins, Tracy and Lacy, were born premature due to a separation of the placenta. They would succumb to respiratory failure only four hours of their birth. Grandpa Fred passed away in 1968. The world would lose the big personality of my Nana on May 8, 2002.
In the mid 90s, I bought the house I grew up in when my Parents moved like a mile down the road. I lived next to Nanner for a number of years. I planted tomatoes one summer for her. She would sit on the back porch and instruct me on where, what and how many.
She was not a little woman, at one point in her final years she weighed in well over 300 pounds and had 26 inch calves. She once slid off her chair in the kitchen and I could hear her calling through the open window. At that time I was maybe a buck forty in weight to her 300+ pounds. She wanted me to stand behind the chair and hold it in place as she tried to (from her hands and knees) use it to get up. She pushed me all over the kitchen. Her telling me to hold still and my trying my very best to hold my footing. We were in fits of laughter and the impossible feat was realized to be just that – impossible. Daddy was eventually called in to help. It took both of us.
She used to love her CB radio. She had the sweetest voice ever (sang in the church choir even). She went by the handle Honey Bea. She would talk to those drivers and they would just be taken with her charm. I wonder if they had ever met her in person whether she would have been who they expected?
She was a nurse at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital, where Ma was hired right out of nursing school. She introduced her to Daddy. The rest was history.
Earlier this week I posted a picture of her beaded necklaces in a fishbowl. While living next door to her, she would rely on me to come to her house EARLY on Sunday morning to pull back her hair and decorate it with a bowed clip and then to pick out beads to match the dress she was wearing that day. Even when I bartended and would make it home at 3AM, I was still summoned to Nanners at 7AM to fix her hair and help her get ready. It did not matter if she had other company who could have helped her, it was me she called on. And I am glad of it. When she passed away, Ma asked me if there was anything I would like to ask for as a memento of her life. I asked for whatever inventory of those crazy beads that no one else wanted. They are my treasure now. I look at them, smile and hear her laugh or her “tsk tsk tsk” when I was doing things I should not.
She is buried at High Lawn Cemetery in Oak Hill, WV. Her section of the cemetery is a swamp and it irks me to no end. However, I have an idea of how to maybe divert some of that sludge from her flat headstone (which, in spring, can be under three inches of mud and water). That is a 2019 goal. I will let you know how it works out….
Miss you Nanner.