My Nana was quite possibly the classiest lady I ever had the privilege of knowing. To our family’s misfortune, she passed away at the young age of 53, when I was just 13 years old.
I remember how softly she always spoke, even if reprimanding someone. I remember, no matter how badly she felt, she always looked like a million dollars. I remember the silky feel of her hair on my cheek when I sat on her lap as she told me stories, and I remember the lilt in her voice and her infectious smile.
The one thing that always stuck with me was a specific visit when I was 12 years old, just a few short months before she passed away. I had saved my babysitting money to buy myself a tailored suit and nice shoes. At 12, I was enamored with the “business woman’s” look of long, tailored skirts and up-swept hair. I practiced for hours upon hours with my hair to get just the right look. I wanted so much for my Nana to think I was as classy as she was and so I wore my tailored skirt and vest and rolled my hair into a classic up do just to go visit her.
My uncle, who was only five years my senior, was flabbergasted that I did not look like a 12 year old girl when I walked into the house. He began deriding me for looking far too “mature” for my age and asked my mother what she was thinking allowing me to dress in such a manner. I started to become very upset and then my Nana stopped my uncle’s lecture by simply stating, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”
At first, I didn’t realize what my Nana was really saying. I had heard that term before, but usually in a manner that someone was showing off something they should be concealing.
My Nana went on to tell my uncle that I looked beautiful and had done a “mighty fine job” of dressing myself with class. I was just beaming that she thought I looked classy!
I realized then, that the term “If you’ve got it, flaunt it”, although often spoke in derision, simply meant that you should exploit your talents, your dreams and your individual creativity.
I am now two years younger than my Nana when she passed away. Most of my career was spent wearing tailored suits and fancy shoes. At one point, in my early twenties, I had an enormous walk-in closet full of tailored suits and over 200 pairs of fancy shoes. In fact, I usually bought the shoes first and then looked for outfits to match. Due to age and injuries, I can no longer wear those fancy shoes. Yet, I still keep a few pair that I just can’t seem to part with.
Some people would think me vain and narcissistic for collecting these suits and shoes, but to me it was all about being as classy as my Nana.
Now, I understand that class isn’t just about the clothes; it’s about your entire persona. Class is having respect for yourself and others. Class is showing love even when you’re feeling sick or in pain. Class is speaking softly and always looking for the good in people and the best in life.
I don’t think I’ll ever come close to being as classy as my Nana; but I’ll forever keep trying and I’ll forever remember her love and her class!