Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's Been 2 Years

This is how I'll always remember Nana.

I was standing in my friend Danica's living room when my phone rang. It was Sunday, July 12, 2009 at about 3:15pm. Danica had just asked me how Nana was doing and I was telling her that after a rough few weeks, where we never knew if she'd make it through the night, I believed Nana was stable and would hold on for just a few more days until I could arrive in Florida on July 15th to celebrate her 93rd birthday with her on the 18th.

I looked at caller id, realized it was Mom and ignored it. I'd spoken with Mom about 2 hours earlier and she was headed over to the nursing home. I'd asked her to call me so I could talk with Nana. Talk is not exactly the right word. She couldn't talk anymore. Thinking back, I'm not sure she'd spoken in a month or so at that point. So I'd do the talking. I'd tell her how much I loved her and couldn't wait to see her in just a few days. We'd celebrate her birthday with cake and candles.

As I pulled out of Danica's driveway, about 15 minutes later to head home, I called Mom back. She was at the nursing home, but I couldn't speak to Nana because she had passed away at 3:10pm ET (about 90 minutes earlier).

Nana had died.

Those words didn't really sink in. I just got to work. I knew what I had to do and I did it. At that point, real tears were probably a few days away. I had to work with Crystal Beach Community Church and Batesville Presbyterian Church to arrange two funeral services. I got the obituary edited and submitted to The Panolian (Batesville, Mississippi's newspaper), St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune. I wrote the eulogy I would give twice. I worked with Dave to get him to Florida and then to Mississippi before returning to Michigan. I had to get Mom from Florida to Mississippi and back to Florida. And I had to get from Chicago to Florida to Dallas to Mississippi and finally home. I still owe my cousin Elesha huge for what she did to make it possible for me to attend Nana's burial.

The rest of the story is told elsewhere on Little Merry Sunshine (and here) and over at Remembering Frances. That's not really what this post is about.

Two years have at once flown by and dragged at a snail's pace.

I've closed Nana's estate. I've figured out how to get out of bed again, be happy, and not miss her every single waking moment. I've changed careers. Some days I don't miss her at all.

Don't misunderstand me, I miss her. A lot. I miss her smile. I miss her Southern drawl. I miss hearing "Jessica, you're my favorite granddaughter" even though I was her only granddaughter. I miss her pretty delicate hands. I miss her fingers intertwined with mine as she held my hand. I miss her remembering every single detail of life (yep, that's where I get it from). I miss receiving birthday cards that were made for little girls when I was in my 30s. I miss the boxes of grapefruit off her tree and the fruitcake she made with too much bourbon because she didn't drink and didn't understand that the axiom "if a little is more, a lot is better" wasn't really true, although when it came to bourbon in fruitcake, it actually was. I miss her weekly handwritten letters. I miss her telling me she loved me "a bushel and a peck." Holidays are different.

But she's not really gone. Well, she is. Obviously. But I feel her presence and sometimes even hear her voice. I can hear it now as I type. Sometimes I can even smell her. Once, I saw her. Feeling, hearing and even smelling her typically only lasts for a brief second before it disappears, but I'm certain in those moments, she's here. The time I saw her was in a dream, but I have no doubt she'd been here that night too.

I've thought a lot over the past two years about what I'd say to her if I had just one more minute with her. I've tried to figure out what one question I'd ask or what one profound thing I'd say one last time. But after giving it great thought, I'd tell her the same thing she said to us each night before bed or each time we'd get off the phone.

Good night. God Bless. I love you. Sweet dreams, Nana.


  1. What a wonderful, bittersweet post.

    Thank you for "introducing" us to your Nana and letting us (well, ME, anyway) feel like we've met her. Grandmothers like your Nana are special women.

  2. I have such fond memories of her, too. Hope that she and my Mom are having a grand reunion in heaven! God has them in His keeping; we have them in our hearts!

  3. Jess, what a sweet tribute. I know what you mean about smelling her. I smell my Mom's perfume at times in my house, so I know she is with me. I love that.

  4. A beautiful tribute to your Nana. I lost my mom last year - I can't believe it's over a year already - and I still feel as if she is with me more often than not.


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