I found out I was pregnant with Aliza a week almost to the hour after Nana left us and I knew immediately she had a hand in that! When sweet Aliza was born I knew immediately Nana was with her. She looked just like us and was demanding the center of attention...just like Nana! Haha! She already shows so many personality traits of my Nana; a killer side eye to show her disapproval, her smile, and infectious laugh. We often joke that their spirits must have passed, because they are so similar! God sure does has a funny way of keeping those who have left you a part of your life!
There have been so many times I have wanted to call her and couldn't. The day I found out I was having a girl I just sat and cried for 5 minutes before I called anyone because I couldn't call her and no one would have loved that baby more! There were days when Aliza was struggling with reflux that I would have given anything to bring her to Nana like I did with Nicholas for her to rock the colicky baby in a way that only she could that always relieved colic. We've now come through all of our "firsts" without her and although I miss her terribly, there is a peace that she is no longer suffering.
I spoke at her service the following week and I have had every intention of sharing what I said, but never felt like writing the post. I wanted to do that today...
Most of you know that my Nana and I had a very unique, special relationship. She had 10 grandchildren and loved us all equally, but differently. I was her first grandchild and think the day I was born was the best day of her life...not because I was born, but because that was the day she gained her most valued title...Nana. With me she was my best friend, my loudest cheerleader, most loyal supporter, and the person that taught me that I could be ANYTHING I wanted to be. Nana always had a way of teaching life lessons, whether you realized that is what she was doing or not. With me it was by encouraging imaginary role play to teach that I could be anyone I wanted to be. It didn’t matter if it was Princess Diana, an astronaut, or a mom, we role played that part!
Part of this pretend play for us was to dress up and pretend to be two old ladies… I was Louella Snodgrass and Nana was Myrtle Higgenbottom. I can honestly tell you that I have NO IDEA where those names came from, but Louella and Myrtle have had some amazing times! I remember actually wearing a gold sequined scarf, hat, and large rhinestone broach to the zoo where we sat and people watched. I was 3 or 4 and yes, I already knew how to people watch! The funny thing is, looking back, I’m SURE people were actually looking at US and commenting on how ridiculous WE looked! Louella and Myrtle LOVED soap operas. I still think I was the only 4 year old in the Baptist preschool that could recap the current storyline on All My Children. Louella and Myrtle continued in those roles (well, without the dress up clothes) as recently as just a couple of years ago. I remember when she moved to the assisted living telling my friends that nothing has changed, Louella and Myrtle will just finally be where two old ladies should be...the assisted living!
One of her favorite things she did with her grandchildren was to host birthday parties. Not just any birthday parties, but extravagant birthday parties ranging from dress up parties to baseball themed parties! For my 5th birthday she had a playhouse built in her backyard for my party. By that time I had been joined by Lindsey, 3 years later, Katie and when Nana married Fred, 4 more granddaughters. Between the 7 of us, there have been countless tea parties, dress up birthday parties, and afternoons spent in that playhouse.
My Nana taught me so much over the 33 years I had with her. I’m thankful that she taught me how to decorate for holidays and instilled in me the love of hosting parties, dishes, crystal, and serving pieces! Everytime I bring home a new piece of crystal or a serving piece I just tell Michael that I can’t help it! My Nana taught me to love these things! Not only did she have a love for dishes and hosting parties, but she also LOVED to cook! You never went to her house that their wasn’t freshly cooked tea cakes, rice crispy treats, and a German chocolate cake sitting on her island! I’m certain that the freezer in Heaven is now stocked full of dumplings for chicken and dumplings, German chocolate cake, and sliced pears for pear preserves for eternity!
The most important thing Nana taught us was to love The Lord, our family, and our friends. Even in her darkest times she always worried about others instead of herself. An example of this was when my grandfather was in his last days and a close family friend was also in the hospital. Nana, 8 month old Lindsey, and 5 year old me were at Erlanger waiting on an elevator when our friends passed by. In showing concern for them and asking about their loved one, she forgot that she had pushed Lindsey’s stroller onto the elevator and as the doors shut she turned around just in time to see Lindsey take an unattended ride through Erlanger! I now work at Erlanger and ride these same elevators often, every time laughing remembering how her concern for others almost caused us to lose Lindsey! This has become a story that our family has laughed about for years!
As much as Nana LOVED being a grandmother, at 80 years old, my Nicholas became the light of her life as her only great grandchild. As recently as Christmas Eve she played and laughed with him. She loved him as only she could and he loves her. He asks about her daily and I am so thankful he was able to know her.
I was blessed for almost 34 years with the most amazing grandmother. Nana was a very colorful, feisty, sassy, fun loving, and the most one of a kind person I’ve ever known. She loved her family fiercely and she loved us well. No one was more proud of us than our Nana. Anytime one of us made the paper, she would order her own personal color copy of the picture! She was my first phone call in the good and bad times. I could count on her to celebrate the good times and comfort me in the bad. In the happy times she would sing You Are My Sunshine to us and when I was upset about anything, she would make me stop crying long enough to hear her sing the words of It Is Well. In the last few days that song has randomly played on my itunes several times when I needed it most and has given me a peace by reminding me that she is no longer suffering, she is with the Lord, and that she always looked forward to the day she would leave this world for Heaven.
Proverbs 31:25 says: She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future. My Nana was THE ideal Proverbs 31 woman and I will forever be thankful for the time I had with her.