Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Remembering Nana

Nana holding Caleb the day he was born

I've been silent on this blog for a long time. After my grandmother unexpectedly passed away during our trip home in February, I haven't really known what to say. I've been grieving and thinking and trying to get back into our normal life here in Singapore. I think I'm ready to write about her.

During my growing up years my Nana was more like a second mom than a grandmother who lets you do whatever you want. We lived "across the street" from her and my Papa from the time I was 4 or 5 until the summer after I turned 13. And by "across the street," I mean our two houses sat on 4 acres of land and there was a gravel drive between the two. We didn't have a neighborhood; it was just us.

My sister and I would slam the door of my mom's piano studio in our house, hop the wooden fence of my grandparents yard, and run barefooted through the back door of their house. (I'm sure Nana would have been quick to correct us if we'd slammed the door of her house, though. We didn't get away with much around her!) Only strangers and rare package deliveries used the front door. It never occurred to us that we wouldn't be welcome at their house. We always were. Nana kept toys for us in the hall closet and poured peroxide on our wounds when we crashed our bicycles.

I remember dinners at their house; my Nana was an amazing cook...fried chicken, green beans, roast beef, chicken and dumplings, fresh homemade rolls...everything she made was amazing. And her angel food cake with homemade icing for my Mom's birthday every year is legendary. During the summer her freezer was stocked with popsicles and ice cream in a carton, and she loved to make us ice cream cones. I'm pretty sure she always had one, too, even though she would tell you she's "not an ice cream person."

Two weeks after Justin and I married in 2002, my parents moved in with my Nana. It was a great arrangement because Nana kept a lot of independence but my parents were there to take care of her when needed (and they were needed A LOT over those 8.5 years through sicknesses and falls and hip replacements and broken bones).

When we planned this trip home, our goal was for me to be with my sister when she had her baby (which I was, praise God!). We, of course, had no way of knowing my Nana would go into the hospital the day before we left Singapore, that she would be diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer a week and a half after that and would only live one week after the diagnosis.

I wish I could express the depth of my gratitude that I was there when all this happened. God is so gracious to me; He knows that living overseas means I miss so many family events, and while this one was not a happy event, I am so thankful to have been there. That this happened during the 4 weeks I was going to be home is purely the grace of God.

I was able to spend some good time with my Nana in the hospital before I went to Houston to be with my sister. That time with my Nana is so precious to me now. I was able to run down to the cafeteria and sneak her salt and pepper packets to try and make the hospital food taste like anything at all (it didn't really help). I was able to watch her sleep and help her get out of bed. I was able to tell her that I loved her.

On the day that I left the hospital the third time to return to my sister's house in Houston, I told my Nana that I'd see her the next week (in the nursing facility she was being moved to) before I left to come back to Singapore. Looking back, I think she knew she couldn't hold on that long. Right before I left, I was sitting on the side of her bed and she was sitting in the chair opposite me. She apologized to me that my mom and I had not been able to spend much time together during my time home because my mom was at the hospital all the time. I told her that was not necessary. Then she said, "I love you so much."

Less than two days later my sister and I were awakened in the middle of the night and told that our Nana had gone to Heaven, where my sweet Papa had been for 19 years.

There is such comfort in knowing that she knew Jesus, that she believed that He died for her sins, and that she is with Him now.

It doesn't make the missing her any less. I've thought about her almost constantly over the past month. When I'm making coffee, I remember how strong she used to make hers. Strong. When I put on my earrings, I remember how much she loved jewelry. When I look at my Levi with his big brown eyes, I remember that she used to call me her "little brown berry" because I, like her and like my mom, also had brown eyes. One child per generation after my Nana got her brown eyes.

My Nana remarked so many times that she never imagined she's live long enough to see her grandchildren graduate from high school, then college. She certainly never thought she'd see us get married. And to be able to hold our babies? The joy of her life. She loved them so much (and even they couldn't get away with slamming doors!).

My mind knows that she's gone, but I can't seem to convince my heart that it's real. It doesn't seem real. Having known her for my 32 years, there is an empty space in my heart knowing I won't again be able to walk into my parents' house and straight to her chair to give her a hug. I won't hear her voice pick up the phone and think she's talking to my sister and ask me how the girls are. I won't fly home this October to attend her 90th birthday party like I had planned.

She is so missed.


Nana holding Levi the day he was born


8 comments:

Melissa Jackson said...

Beautifully written...what a nice way to honor and remember your grandmother. I can feel your love for her through your words.

I am so sorry to hear about your loss, but appreciate the perspective of recognizing the blessing of being with her towards the end of her life on earth.

Praise God that we have so much more to look forward to after this life here!

Stacey said...

I have tears in my eyes. What a sweet sweet testimony to your Nana. What a special lady!

Aggiema (Michelle) said...

Sounds like it your Grandmother was a wonderful sweet lady. I am thankful that you had her in your life. I am also thankful that she did not suffer any more than she did with Pancreatic Cancer (same awful disease that took my sweet mother) Thanks for sharing your GM with us!

Dave and Lisa said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Jenn. I thought a lot of your grandma and really enjoyed the times I was able to be around her and talk with her. She was a very special lady. I love you and pray that God continues to give you peace and help you hold these precious memories close in your heart always.

HolyMama! said...

tears are running down my face after reading this sweet post. what a wonderful woman - i'm really glad you wrote about her and shared her, even though it couldn't have been easy.

Stacy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Jennifer. I loved reading this. I know exactly how grateful you feel to have been there with your family when this happened. God is good. Praying for you.

Erica said...

Sweet friend, I am SO very sorry for your loss. I can totally understand just how you are feeling. I am still grieving; some days are easier than others, and then there are those that just catch me by surprise.
I bet she gave you that sweet potato recipe you shared with me years ago. I still have it in my recipe box! I do know how very precious it is that you got to be with her. Isn't God's timimg impeccable!

Hol said...

What a beautiful testimony. I'm so sorry for your loss, yet I'm thankful you shared your thoughts. I can tell that your grandmother was a very special woman, not only to her family but to everyone who met her. God's grace is amazing isn't it? He is so good especially when things are difficult or painful. May He continue to bless and comfort you. I'm keeping you all in my prayers.



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