Friday, July 12, 2013

Nana

Today we laid my beautiful Nana to rest.  It was a gorgeous day... the kind of day that would have been nice to sit out on my Nana's back porch listening to the occasional clings of her wind chimes.   This day, and the day that she passed, have been the saddest days of my life.  To watch her family grieve was just as heartbreaking as dealing with my own grief.  She is so incredibly loved by our family and there was not a dry eye today.  Having my family all together was almost therapeutic for me as it was a memory of old times.  I couldn't have asked for a better way to have the day end; with all of those that loved her so dearly together again. I debated on whether or not I would let my children attend the viewing and the funeral, but they stayed for the entire day and behaved so well.  Aiyana asked relevant questions and really took the whole process to heart.  I am grateful that she will always remember her Big Nana.  Clara is a bit too young, but we will let her know how much her Big Nana loved her and how much light she brought into Big Nana's life. Today, while eating ice cream at a local ice cream parlor, Aiyana walked up to a complete stranger...  With an ice cream cone in hand and chocolate all over her face she said "My Big Nana is in Heaven and she is an angel now".  It was the most touching thing to hear.

Here's a collection of random photos from the 1960's through the 80's.

Front: Jeremy, Me, Zach & Danielle. Back: Nana, Tracie, Vicki, Lori, Angie, Great Grandpa and mom.


Four generations... Nana, Mom, Me & Great Grandma


Nana with Danielle and I during a dinner boat cruise on the Mississippi.


Nana with Jeremy, Danielle and I


Nana feeding us...


This was right after my dad told Nana that I was born.


Nana was a great seamstress.  Here she is sewing Alisa's dress for Tracie's wedding.


The home in which we spent many birthdays and holidays.


Great Grandma and Nana


Nana & her girls.


This is what I read during the open hour of the wake...

Summing up my memories of Nana wouldn’t quite be a summary… More like a novel, but I will try to keep it short.  Nana was the closest grandparent that I had and I looked up to her in so many ways.  Nana was a woman of strength and courage and she had a loving heart. She was the center of our family and she meant the world to each and every one of us.   I loved asking Nana about her younger years.  I remember her telling me about Christmas’s with her family and about how her brother Bob would make a cape and run from one end of the porch to the other then jump thinking that the cape would help him fly. I loved hearing about her double dates with her sister Eleanor and her dancing dates with her cousin Louella.  I remember going out to Nana’s childhood farmhouse with her to see where she grew up. It was so neat to see where she spent her childhood and to picture her at that house as a young blonde haired, blue eyed, little girl.

My cousin Danielle and I had many sleepovers at Nana’s house.  Nana was always willing to let us stay over night even though she knew that our little hands would be sweeping through her clothes in anticipation of getting dressed up.  Her make-up didn’t escape our interest either. Nana always had plenty of activities to keep us entertained and plenty of food to fill us up.  I especially enjoyed her meatloaf, mashed potatoes, soup, potato salad and home made cookies.  Her cookies tasted different every time she made them, but they were always so good.  When you would ask her what she put in them she could never quite remember because she hardly followed a recipe. Once Danielle and I got to go on a dinner cruise with Nana and our moms.  I remember having the time of my life eating all of that fancy food and dancing the night away.  Another time Nana took Danielle and I to the mall to make our own music video.  We were so nervous about it, but Nana encouraged us and made us feel so special. I can’t even count how many times Nana came to my rescue when I had something that needed sewn.  Nana fixed more than just clothes, though, she could fix anything whether it was something tangible, sadness or an ill feeling.

Some of the things that will resonate with me are her smile, her laugh, the bounce in her walk when she was acting silly and her desire to pick up a camera and photograph all of the memories she could capture.  Even when Nana’s life started to change… There was always a part of her character that remained.  Her smile… Her laugh… her love for children… the occasional bounce in her walk… It was all still there.  I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to make frequent trips from Arizona to see Nana.  I am glad that my children got a chance to meet their big Nana and bring joy to her life every time they walked into her room.  Nana loved their company as much as they loved being there with her.  Aiyana remembers tossing a ball with her, sitting on her lap and how much Nana enjoyed braiding her hair.  I told my girls that big Nana is their guardian angel now and even though we don’t see her, she will always be there. I truly believe that Nana is watching over us.  She will never stop looking after her family.

Nana showing Aiyana her doll...


Nana holding Clara...


I brought Clara for her first visit to Iowa when she was 3 month old.  I stayed with my mom and Nana for a week and Nana was just tickled pink to have a baby in the house.  I laid Clara on the floor and she started to fuss so Nana got off of her chair and crouched down on the floor to pick her up and talk to her.


One last memory that I will hold dear is when I learned of Nana’s passing… I glanced down at a photo album that I had open in front of me. There was a picture of my mom and Nana and the text read “you light up my life”. I started to cry and then I got angry as a mix of emotions welled up inside of me.  So I closed my eyes and I asked God to show me what she sees and as clear as it could be… I saw Jesus with his arms open and Great Grandma and Great Grandpa were peeking from behind him with enormous grins on their faces.  She is no longer with us and that saddens me deeply, but she has been welcomed into her forever home and I know that I will see her again some day.

After I read this at Nana's wake, I sat down and Aiyana came over to me and gave me a big hug.  She nestled her head under my chin and stayed on my lap the remainder of the service.  At one point she glanced up at me and said "I'm sad" and I said "Why honey?" She said "because Big Nana won't be able to braid my hair again".  I said "No she won't, but I'm sure Nana would love to do it".  That eased her mind and she snuggled back in for a long embrace.


I am grateful for the path that my Nana has carved for her family.  The path that was created with her love, strength and courage.  She was our rock, our foundation and our gathering place.  I have felt her presence these past few days.  I feel as though she is watching me and I want to make her proud.

I love you Nana... and your legacy remains.  We will all make you proud!


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