As Life Rolls On

As a friend of mine always says, "We plan, God laughs." You never know what life will bring, but the ride can be a blast!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

May Reflections: On Goodbyes

As I drove to work the morning we were leaving for Toronto (I worked 1/2 a day), I got the call from Dad letting me know that my Nana had been diagnosed with lung cancer and the prognosis was that we would have about 6 more months with her, if that. It was not a call I ever expected to get. Nana is 91 years old. She almost seemed invincible, however I expected to get a call at some point to say that she had passed away quietly in her sleep of old age, not that she would have to suffer due to cancer in her final days. I was surprised by my reaction to the news, as it was quite strong. I had to pull over to the side of the road for a minute to get over the shock.

I would not say that I am, or ever was overly close to my Nana. There has always been a bit of a distance there, not just geographically, but for many reasons, especially as an adult, I have kept myself at a bit of a distance from her emotionally as well. I believe that that comes out of my nature to be very protective of those I love most and feel closest to. I do however love my Nana dearly and have great respect for her and recognize that she has not always had an easy life. As such, I have always ensured that I have kept contact with her and that my children had a love and respect for her as a great grandmother as well.

As we were going "home" for Jason & Alyson's wedding, Bruce & I took a day to drive north to spend a day with Nana. We had a wonderful visit. Nana was dressed to the hilt in her red suit and dressy blouse. Although she has become physically frail, she was bright and coherent. We went for a walk around the neighbourhood. We spent some time talking about some of her memories of her own childhood, as well as some of her memories of me, my brothers and sisters as children. Nana shared some family history stuff with me that I never knew before. She made connections for me where some gaps once were. She continually asked about her great grand children, Jennifer, James, & Jason and what they were doing. She kept saying how proud she was that all three of them had completed university. She also kept grabbing my hand saying that she was so glad we came, "I though when you moved, I'd never see you again. I prayed I would, and it happened." Amazing that God knows exactly what we need.

Nana was very open in her talk about death. She continually said, "I never thought it would happen this way, but you have to deal with what you get." She talked about being able to see her mom and dad when she goes to "glory". She also become somewhat melancholy at one point as she talked about the way she wanted to die, not in a hospital, but at home, in her space, where she was comfortable. She didn't know if that would happen, "after all who would take care of me." I assured her that mom and dad would do everything in their power to make her wishes happen. I never did tell mom and dad about that conversation, I just had complete trust and faith that they would "step up to the bat" as it were. Mom and dad have moved north now for as long as they need to. Nana is at home, set up in her own living room, being well cared for.

I realize that I have many of the same qualities and characteristics as my Nana. Nana has always had a green thumb and loved to garden. I learned from our visit that for her it was therapeutic as it was a stress reliever. Me too. Although some people in her own life have not always been as supportive of her as to what they could be, she continually wants to see them in a positive light. I am that way with people in my life as well. To Nana, her family is key. Me too. Nana sees northern Ontario (Muskoka and north) as being "God's country", and would never have considered living anywhere else. Bruce & I love that area so much, that our plan is to retire there if possible. Nana loves her Swiss Chalet..............ME TOO!

As we left Nana, she insisted I make some promises to her. As she was not well enough to make the trip to Jason & Alyson's wedding, she made me promise that she would see pictures from it. Dad has made sure that promise was kept. She made me promise that my kids would get up to see her so she could say goodbye. They all went to visit the week after Jason got back from his honeymoon. Another promise kept. She also asked me again if mom and dad really would do what they can to allow her to die at home. Yes Nana, they will, and they have.

If I had all the years to do over again, I would have let my guard down so that we could have been closer. That was my issue, not hers. I am glad that Bruce & I took the time to go north to spend time with her. I got to know more about her than I had permitted myself to do in the past. She is a survivor, and in many ways an aspiration.

As we said goodbye, both Nana & I looked at each other and said "goodbye for now". She said "I'll see you again, maybe not here, but in Glory." She's right. I love you, I'll see you in Glory Nana!

Bruce & Nana on our walk

Me and Nana


  • At 10:53 PM, Blogger Stephen said…

    Thanks for your reflections on Nana. I am glad you had such a wonderful and meaningful visit with her.
    She looks like a million bucks!

  • At 11:05 AM, Blogger Catharine said…

    Nana looks great in these pictures. The times I visited her she did not look as good. She would not get out of bed. During my first visit nana was a little fuzzy - sometimes recognizing me and other times calling me Ivy. We spent some time looking through photos on my laptop - most from years ago with the cousins. During my second visit she was more aware and talkative. I enjoyed both visits very much.

  • At 2:55 PM, Blogger Evie said…

    I'm glad you had a chance to visit Nana.


Post a Comment

<< Home