Saying Goodbye From Afar is never easy.
It’s even harder when you have known this day would come from many years-and now finally it is here.
Today I am saying goodbye to my Nana.
She died, quiet suddenly in the end, on March 30th, Mother’s Day in England, ironically. She died peacefully, after a short battle with pneumonia and years of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Today, the rest of my family are together in England at her funeral-they get to remember her life, to celebrate who she was, to rejoice at where she is now and to grieve.
I wanted to write about this on the blog-as a somewhat cathartic process of dealing with my loss but then I was asked to write something to be read at her funeral-so part of this post will be being read in England today. I get to ‘be there’ in one capacity or another.
I have many fond memories of life with Nana.
I was her first grandchild-born in 1980. We were very close, especially when I was growing up.
She used to come to our house once a week and she would ALWAYS bring Marks & Spencer Fresh Cream Meringues. I loved those meringues because of her, and to this day they remind me of Nana.
When she would come to our house we would nearly always play the same game. I was a very imaginative child and would create role plays from the strangest items.
Nana and I would sit on the stairs-about halfway up and pretend it was a double-decker bus. We would ‘get on the bus’, ‘pay’ the imaginary driver on the bottom step, walk up the stairs and sit down, as if it were the top deck. We would arrive at our destination and exit the bus to go shopping. My push-along dog became the trolley and we would walk up and down the hallway pretending to grocery shop.
I will hold Nana responsible for my love of food, especially sweet things AND a bizarre love of grocery shopping!
Fast forward a few years, and I would spend many school holidays at Nana’s house when I was in my teens.
I always had lots of fun with her but one particular story stands out!
It was Valentines Day, I was 13, to celebrate we went to my Great Grandad’s nursing home for their Valentines Day party. At the party was whole host of old people, Great Grandad, me, Nana, Do & Les (my Great Aunt & Uncle), Steph & Paul (my second-cousin and her fiance, now husband) throw in a DJ and a bar and we have ourselves a very interesting party.
Nana decided I could have a sherry and lemonade, her drink of choice, although she never was a drinker, in fact she hated the taste of alcohol EXCEPT sherry and lemonade. One drink turned into a few, to be honest I have no idea how many we both drank…we were just enjoying the party. We were driven home at the end of the night and all I remember was us both laughing hysterically and literally crawling up the stairs on our hands a knees, and Nana saying something to the effect of “I think I’m a little bit drunk!” Apparently we both were!
How she ever got away with that I do not know….but she did!
Now I can say that the first time I ever had too much to drink was when I was under my Nana’s supervision. I think the whole family can testify that Nana knew nothing about alcohol, just that she didn’t really like it! We all laugh about her serving size and how she could never have got a job in a bar!
Nana loved dogs, she owned dogs for most of her life. Here she is with Ralph, she wanted to kiss him, then he kissed her back….she was not amused! Nana was known by her facial expressions. She would often say “I’m not saying a word!” with a look on her face that said a thousand words! This picture captures it all. Her humor, her personality, her heart.
As I grew older, I grew more independent, a trait I got from Nana. However, she still thought of me as that little girl who played shop with her. Our strong wills would clash regularly. I would get frustrated that she didn’t understand that I was older now and I had my own opinions (that were obviously correct!).
I began to see that the image of a ‘perfect Nana who could do no wrong’ was the perspective of a child and not reality.
She was a normal woman with a very strong will, who defined the word stubborn and was getting deafer by the day-but who fiercely loved her family!
As the years past, I learned to hold my tongue (sometimes!). I learnt that fighting with her didn’t get either of us anywhere and I began to realize that her stubborn streak was keeping her alive. Her fighting spirit, determination and indignation had helped her survive as a widow for over 32 years. I realized her ‘interference in our lives’ was her way of showing us just how much she cared.
My respect for her grew. My love for her never changed.
I thank God that I got to see her before she died. I love the fact that she got to meet Captain America, and watch our wedding video, and that she knew and understood that I had got married.
I am doubly thankful that I got to see her three times in the past year. God knew I needed to see her before she died-I got to say my goodbye in person, and when I did, she was having a rare lucid moment. She knew who I was, she recognized me, she understood when watching our wedding video what she was seeing, and she cried. This very rarely happened according to the family members who see her regularly.