Elusive Icebergs

An iceberg’s lifespan is a few thousand years. It begins as snow falling on a glacier and ends as a chunk of ice melting into the sea.

Memories are like icebergs, separating themselves as time passes from their glacial past. Some are visible and large enough to walk around on. Others are harder to see as they float their way to warmer waters to die a not unpleasant death, but a death all the same.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been swimming the ocean that is my mind in search of icebergs, always pleasantly surprised when I reach one. I swim up to it and around it, and then under it. It’s only been a few days since finishing the memoir and I haven’t yet caught my breath.

This Tuesday was my Nanny’s last Tuesday. In hospice care, she passed away while asleep.  My Nanny never liked the term “grandma”; in part because of our British ancestry but mostly because it sounded old. “Old” was not a word to describe her: glamorous, generous, compassionate, but never old.

Writing about one’s past reveals all kinds of hidden memories that otherwise might have been lost for good, buried at sea. It seems a shame to go through life and never explore the depth of one’s own mind. My memories of my Nanny are mostly frozen in the icebergs of my childhood.

I’ll be heading to California in a few days to help my mother go through my Nanny’s things–put some order into a sea of chaos. While I’m there I hope to upend a few icebergs, and perhaps catch a glimpse of a few others before they’ve melted away for good.

In the words of Socrates, ‘an unexamined life is not worth living.’



  1. We also called my grandmother Nanny. I think it’s a maritimer thing. I feel like it’s a bit of a class reaching: a nanny in England being someone the wealthy hire to take care of their kids. Understandable it would be used for grandmothers, who would fill that supplemental childcare role, by a group of people who were not of the gentry (or they would have stayed in england) or even English anymore (since they hadn’t). My family history and language is full of such foibles of ridiculously stretched class pretensions, we even had a pair of armorial swords (of dubious provenance) that were disposed of after they were almost used in a murder. Long story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your set up of the Iceberg metaphor is beautifully crafted Tracey. Sad to hear about your Nanny. I wish you strength on your journey back to your family in California. One more thing – I am also known as “Nanna” rather than “grandma” to my granddaughter. My daughter and I chose it because I felt, at the time, I didn’t wear the “Grandma” label well.

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  3. hmmmm tried to leave a message, I don;t think it worked, you may get this twice!! buy……
    so sorry for your loss Tracey… sad to lose a loved matriarch… be gentle in your journey.

    I am so enjoying reading your posts…. you get better with each week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love that…… and icebergs, when they break away from the larger parts of a glacier, is called calving.
    And when they calve, it sounds like a HUGE cannon bomb……it would be great if we all left a similar cannon bomb behind when we shuffle off the mortal coil. xo 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Tracy, I’m sad to hear of Nanna, I remember the trips you took as a child to see her, you always had such good stories on your return! I was so jealous! Hope you are remembering all the great times you had with her. Lots of hugs for you and your mom!!


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