Yesterday, we said our final goodbyes to my grandmother. She passed away early Thursday morning, just after midnight. These last two days, with her visitation on Saturday and her funeral Sunday, have been very difficult. As can be imagined, it is still difficult as I write this today. It’s hard to fathom that my “Nana” is gone. She endured so much in her lifetime, from cancer and declining health to the unimaginable loss that no parent should ever experience, the loss of a child. However, through these struggles she continued to push ahead and lived for almost 88 years on this earth.
She grew up in the poor, rural South of the Great Depression. Always frugal, never wasteful, her early years shaped how she would view the world for the rest of her life. She had a deep, strong faith that powered her barely five-foot-tall frame. What Nana may have lacked in stature she more than made up for with spunk, conviction, and an undeniable perseverance to keep moving forward, “taking one day at a time” as she would always say.
When I was an infant, Nana quit her job to take care of me in the day while my mom went back to work. She helped raise me and mold me. She taught me to respect my mother and would not be afraid to discipline her young grandson when he didn’t listen. In other words, she helped me grow up. When the difficult, but necessary, decision was made to move away, my Nana ensured she stayed in my life, to help guide me from afar. Even when she instructed behaviors in me that she herself could not fulfil, she tried to steer me into becoming a man she could be proud of. Of this task, I hope I succeeded.
My Nana was not perfect. Like all of us, she possessed that uniquely human element of fallibility. She did things she would later regret, hold grudges for far too long, and say things she shouldn’t have. However, I didn’t love my Nana because she was perfect, I loved my Nana because she loved me, who was imperfect. I cared deeply for her despite her faults because she cared deeply for me despite mine. In the end, my love for my Nana wasn’t about perfection or purity, it was about a grandmother, who loved her grandson with all her heart. A grandmother who would do anything she could to ensure her grandson felt loved and protected. Of this task, I say confidently, Nana succeeded beautifully.