Today we’re saying goodbye to my Nana. She’s been sick for awhile, and we were told that today we’re going to say goodbye.
I don’t deal with death well. My first instinct is complete avoidance, and I always feel awkward being emotional around even my closest family. Any my Nana is a bit of a conundrum, because we were not super close.
Don’t get me wrong. I have amazing memories as a child with her, and I’m truly sad at her passing. She had three gives, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A lot of her family is coming in tonight to say goodbye.
I wish I knew her better. As a teenager, I was a very strong willed and opinionated person. I stood up for everything and everyone, and I was explode with anger at any form of bullying. My Nana, for everything she was, had this way of subtlety pointing out the things she thought you should fix about yourself. She was not being cruel, but she didn’t seem to understand that what she was doing, was belittling you. As a teenage girl, she was telling my sister and I that we were not good enough, and that she didn’t approve. It was a hard time for our relationship. We constantly stood up to her, me more than my sister, and we often fought. I stopped seeing her very often, and she called me ungrateful.
I think I was probably ungrateful. I was hurt by the things she said, and I took it as a cruel and negative way to treat me. But she was family, and despite how wrong she was, she was trying to help me be the best I could be. It ruined our relationship.
In the last few years, I managed to get to know her again. She’s been unwell for awhile now, but before that, we did managed to see each other. I will always love my Nana, and I will miss her. My memories of her when we were children are wonderful. I mean truly wonderful. They lived right next door and they had a pool, and always wanted us up there to swim and play. They would sit outside with us, laugh and joke, and have treats and sandwiches. They used to take my brother, sister and I to Bellingham for the day. We would go to the buffet at Izzy’s, and then the big dollar store. At the time it was heaven. I laugh about it when I look back at it, because we could have done all of that here, but we always drove to Bellingham.
My Nana and Granddad always used to do this funny thing that as a child we loved, but looking back and it is kind of strange. They would go out and buy us jelly doughnuts. When they got back, they would drive up our driveway and honk the horn. We would have to go running our, and they would hand us the doughnuts in a bag out a partially opened window. Then they would rive to their house next door. How odd is that? They never came in. They never stopped to say hi. They just handed the bag out the window and quickly drove off.
It was sweet, of course. They went out to get us treats. And we were super excited about it. But my mom told me years later how odd they found it. It would take no effort for them to go to their place, and then call us over to eat them there. We lived next door, and we were always in the pool anyway.
My Nana used to host the big Christmas dinners every year. Lots of family would come, and we would sit in the dinning room, which was NEVER used. I mean they had a giant sitting room and dinning room that were vacant most of the year. It was most of the house! They only opened up these rooms for special events, like Christmas.
My Nana is British, so that meant the potatoes were cooked in lard, the gravy extra thick and plentiful, and custard went alongside everything. No one else I know makes custard to put beside every plate. It was one of the only times that whole side of the family would get together and be friendly with one another. Normally there was a lot of drama. I remember sitting in that room, shoveling potatoes cook in lard covered in gravy into my mouth, and looking forward to sitting in the pristine white furniture we were never allowed to even look at!
The last few years have been hard on my Nana. She was always a strong, independent woman who ran her house and family, and had say in everything. But then she had a stroke, and was forced to move into a home. She never got well again. We knew she hated it, but she needed the medical attention. It was hard to see her like that, hard to witness her sadness. I found it hard to visit her, because she was so different than the person I knew. I’m glad we got past my being a moody teenager, and managed to have a relationship again. I hope she’s at peace wherever she is. She was never religious, not really, so I don’t know what her beliefs are. Whatever they are, I hope they brought her peace in the last while of hardship.