I wanted to share a few memories of Nan. It is hard to encapsulate a lifetime of memories into a few paragraphs. Looking over old photographs the week after she died reminded me of the many memories we truly had. Trips to New Hampshire when we were kids, trips to our college graduations that she and Dad made by plane twice and driving once. It's amazing to me she ever stepped foot on a plane and came to Ohio, Georgia, and New York for us. We took her on a weekend road trip to Quebec and New Brunswick one fall. She so enjoyed the trip she took to Prince Edward Island with Harold and Faye as well. She talked about that often. While she was firmly grounded in Waldoboro her entire life, I'm glad she got to travel a bit. We regret that we never were able to take her to see the Smokey Mountains or the Grand Ole Opry. Two things she said she'd love to see.
One thing she loved was Christmas, Christmas shopping, Christmas dinner, and to be a part of our day opening gifts. Christmas was her fun as she would say. She and my grandfather would be at our house before 7 am on Christmas, one year, even before we kids were awake!
But when it came time for her to receive gifts, she'd always say, “You shouldn't spend your hard-earned money on me!” But if the gift was something really special, something she truly liked, you always knew that she didn't mind so much by the twinkle in her eye! One year we went shopping at the old Service Merchandise in Augusta, the year they were closing. She mentioned to my mother how much she liked a certain table lamp she saw. Because my Nan usually would never tell us just what we could get her she was hard to buy for. But my Mom made sure she told me about the lamp. I went back and bought it and she was so thrilled with it, even though I'm sure she said, “I knew I shouldn't have said anything about that lamp.” It was the one lamp she would always turn on first.
Some other things Nan would say are “Precious cargo” when we would get in the car, followed by, “It's not you I worry about, it's those other crazy people on the road!”
She was a hard worker, rising early, 4/4:30, to be ready to catch her ride to the fish factory, working from 6-2,3,4 and coming home to make dinner. On Friday afternoons she and my grandfather would head to the laundromat, and Saturdays were shopping days. There were many Fridays when they would pick me up and bring me to the laundromat and then I would get to sleepover. We'd watch the Wheel of Fortune, Dukes of Hazard, or Little House on the Prairie with a big bowl of buttery popcorn. Saturday maybe she'd make me pancakes or get me a bowl of cereal, and then it was off to Rockland to go shopping, sitting between them in my grandfather's truck that smelled of tobacco and leather. We'd always go to McDonald's for lunch, a big treat of course.
She loved to feed people. She enjoyed cooking and baking, especially pies. She would make a pie or a pan of brownies for anyone who asked or t o say thank you to a neighbor or friend. Even the last few months when she was not able to cook she told Paul she would make him an apple pie when she was better. I hope she is making pies and biscuits for her neighbors in heaven. My favorite was her chocolate cream. We all have our favorite Nanny foods. For Patrick my son, Nanny's house meant popsicles and the possibility that I would allow time for her to make him macaroni, loaded with butter, salt, and pepper! She was always ready to make you a sandwich, get you a drink, or offer whatever she had whether a caramel candy or ice cream bar, frozen fruit or something homemade. If you came to Nanny's house be prepared to eat!
She was a fiercely independent soul even to the end and wanted to refuse help from us or home health care, even I think the nurses at Windward and Cove's Edge, which chagrined us, but she wasn't going to be a “burden to anyone”. The nursing staff had to remind her over and over again that they enjoyed taking care of her and that they loved their jobs and hey, if she wasn't here, what would they be doing...sitting under a bridge homeless, one man said. She was a treat for the nurses, but she was always concerned about being a burden. It was hard to convince her that she wasn't a burden, and that she was loved.
Over the years, especially after her by-pass surgery in 2003, she would often tell me not to worry about her if “something happened,” but that she wanted us to know that she loved us. Sometimes I would ask her what she meant by if “something happened.” She didn't always like to elaborate on that. She also would tell me that she knew where she was going, to God, and was ready. These last few years, she was really ready, losing the vim and vigor to live. Losing Harold was very hard, she missed him terribly, and never recovered from her sadness. We felt and told her that there were many reasons for her to live, and I would tell her I wasn't ready for her to go, but she was ready, despite our feelings. So when I got the phone call from Cheryl, her nurse, telling me that Nan was unconscious, I was panicked, but also I said I knew it was what she'd been waiting and praying for, for God to call her home. So even though today we feel sad, we feel a loss, we can be happy for her that she is where she wanted to go at last, to God's continual presence where there is forever peace and joy, and we can meet her there someday if we place our trust in Jesus as she did for the forgiveness of our sins. I thank God for that. I miss her, but I know that this is not goodbye for good. Nanny, we'll see you again someday. I know you'll be waiting.
What I shared at my Nanny's memorial service on April 7. Photo from Easter, April 24, 2011.