Nana Noonan is somewhat of a local legend in Canada’s Pacific Northwest. Telkwa (Pop. 852) in the late 50’s and early 60’s is not much different from other small towns across North America. Every town reluctantly owns a Nana. Or wishes they did.There are lots of things that get Nana going. Telkwa’s only Jehovah’s Witness tops her list. ‘That Damn Jehovah!’ is the incessant phrase in the hundreds of letters Nana sends her 13-year-old granddaughter, Maggie Mulvaney. They live 150 miles apart, and Nana and her letters show Maggie the human aspects of life. The Jehovah is hell-bent on saving Nana. His high hopes on salvation equal her intent to remain as she is: hell-bent on being herself. After all, she is an Anglican.Nana tells Maggie that it is important to be fair to your fellow humans. As long as they don’t drive you to do something foolish. Maggie thinks about the lessons learned at Nana’s knee. She writes back and offers suggestions on how Nana might better deal with the Jehovah. The townsfolk place bets on Nana and the Jehovah and when they will have their next ‘set to.’ Cash exchanges hands on a fairly regular basis.Only two people visit Nana more often than her family: Constable Reems of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and her ill-fated devotee, who visits every Saturday, rain, shine, sleet or snow.Nana and the Jehovah reach a stalemate one fall day in 1960. Her Irish temper and accuracy with a gun is what gets Nana into trouble. And Telkwa isn’t the same without Nana Noonan … or that Damn Jehovah.
About Margo Bates
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Published October 18, 2005
History, Literature & Fiction.