Thursday, July 03, 2014

My Nana

That's a picture of my Nana, as a teenager, riding a bike in a skirt, with a super cute haircut.  I love this picture and it's prominently displayed in my living room.  My Nana passed away on Father's Day, and I miss her.  Actually, I've been missing her for awhile.  She had Alzheimer's, so it sometimes felt like she was already gone.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I was/am close to all my grandparents.  All four were/are (what tense do I use when I only have my Dado left here?) interesting, wise, loving and just really special to me.  My Grandpa died in 2005, and my Grandma in 2011, and I processed each loss differently.  We knew Nana would be going on to glory (I've always liked that phrase) very soon, so I got to tell her goodbye in person, which was hard and also precious to me.  As I knelt next to her, listening to her breathe so hard, I kept thinking about how well she took care of me.  I remember splinters and bee stings and she would quickly provide M&Ms, a Coke, a book, a tv show - whatever it took to distract from the pain and make me feel better.  I wished I could have done that for her.

Me and Nana, May 2008
She was so special.  My Nana was different from me - naturally hospitable and friendly and sweet.  It always blew my mind that she would talk to anyone (ANYONE!) and get a total kick out of it.  She was a food pusher, and while I appreciate her teaching me the joy of a little chocolate after breakfast, I was always puzzled about how she could spend most of a meal flitting around the kitchen and the table doing things for all of us, instead of eating herself.  When she and Dado would drive from Virginia to Florida to visit us, it seemed like most of the stuff packed in the trunk was food for us, especially candy and other treats.  Also, she was a tomboy, unlike me.  I loved that she was always up for walking in the woods and getting a little muddy in the creek, but she even liked fishing!  And for a short lady, she could move so fast!    And she grew her own grapes and made jelly from them!  That was pretty shocking to me as a kid.

Still, as an adult, these qualities - loving to serve and connect with others, and to get a little dirty enjoying nature - truly amaze me, and I want to be like her.  I won't even start on the beautiful commitment of 65 years of marriage to my Dado, except to say, they really took care of each other, and it's inspiring and something to aspire to.

Nana and Dado and the GreatGrandkids, June 2012
But as I've thought about how much she meant to me, I realized one thing that made the most difference in my life.  I think my Nana was the one person in my life who loved me without  - how do I say this? - trying to change me or teach me or receive something from me in return.  I don't mean that to disparage all the other sacrificially loving people I have in  my life.  Certainly the love and support from first my parents, then my grandparents, and other family members and friends has been hugely meaningful to me and I couldn't have achieved or accomplished much of anything without them.  What I mean is that just like I needed my parents to have rules and expectations for me, and I needed my other grandparents to share particular knowledge or qualities they wanted me to have, I think God gave me my Nana to just be on my side.  No pressure.  Just delight, really.  He gave me her to spoil me and be unreasonably proud (truly, unreasonably) and to cry when I came and cry again when I left, just because that was how she loved.

So, thanks be to God for giving me her.  For giving her to all of us who knew her, really.

GrandNana and Cadence, July 2011


Joyce said...

Thank you, dear sweet daughter! This was a beautiful tribute to and remembrance of your sweet Nana! Love you!

Dassa said...