Reflecting on the life and death of my grandmother

I spent the entire flight to Amarillo thinking about what I would say if we were offered the chance to share memories of Nanny at her funeral today. That wasn’t the case and so I am writing them here, which to be honest is much better because I don’t think I could have made it through at the service.

I first began thinking of the many wonderful memories I have of her: the funny ones, the self deprecating ones, the light hearted ones. I figured we would all be in the mood for a break from the somber emotion. And that is just how my mind works, I deal with situations by trying to bring humor.

Then I realized that we had been lucky enough (and my sister had the genius idea) to actually convey those types of memories, and many more, directly to Nanny in a memory book we gave her at Christmas. My sister said she thought “what do you give someone for their last Christmas?” And that was the best answer ever. We had a bit of prep time, which I am so thankful for, because many don’t get it.

So instead my mind wondered to the day of her death. I remember that night playing with my son Dutch before his bedtime, and discovering a new game which made him laugh hysterically. His laughter gave me such joy on a day when I was hurting for my entire family. My brother, who had been in town and helped my mother deal with more things than a younger brother should ever have to. My mother and aunt who had to know that their mother was dead, and then try to deal with all the hardships a death brings even outside of the emotional ones. My sister who tried to race to Nanny’s side as I desperately told her over the phone “please tell her Janet, Jeremiah, and Dutch love her if you see her before she passes”. My other sister who sat in the room with my aunt and helped her understand that she had done everything possible and correctly in Nanny’s final moments. And most of all my grandfather who was recovering from a difficult surgery and having to learn that his wife of 66 years was no longer with him.

And it was then I realized that this moment, Dutch’s laughter and my joy, were only possible because of my Nanny. Because of her love, dedication, and sacrifice in raising a family. And not just that moment, but every moment of every one of her descendant’s lives. I guess my grandad helped a little too (see, can’t help but joke when things get serious).

And that gave me comfort, and even a little pride. I am proud to be a part of her great legacy. And I am comforted to know that she will not be forgotten, because every moment we live is a testament and honor to her memory.


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