Bio Moment – Nana’s Sparkles

As you may have noticed, I feel VERY strongly about special people in my life.

I’ve talked a lot about Nana over the years… 

She was my best friend.

And grandmother. 

I miss her. 

She died in 2005 but I missed her long before that. It began before I even moved to Canada. She was in assisted living then. Had a caregiver who was beloved by our family – less so by Nana, who by then was growing…

What was it?

Angry?

Yes, and other things too.

She had dementia, you see, and that sucker robs you slowly. And often, brings out the best (or worst) in the people it devours.

In my dad’s case, his (thankfully) short journey with dementia made him dearer, when I hardly thought that was possible. Never one for public tears or gushy sentimentality, he became childlike, wearing his heart on his sleeve. He cried easily and turned into a total mushball.

Like I say, soooooooo dear!

With Nana… let’s just say it was a different story. 

Looking back, it was clear something had changed… years before we knew for sure what it was… and not for the better. 

I loved her dearly, as always… but had some other things on my mind at the time. This is to my shame, as she’d always been there for me, and I was not there for her when she needed me most.

But I digress.

The Nana I knew and loved was slowly disappearing… and then I did the same, in a way, by moving 4000 miles away.

For the first time in my life, I felt a wedge growing between us.

This was pre Facetime or fancy cell phones, and Nana could hardly remember how to use her TV remote – I remember Dad putting stickers with directions on the darned thing! – let alone the granddaughter she hadn’t seen in a year.

Then, she moved with my parents across the country into their new home. That’s where she was the last time I saw her. It is also where she died.

The sweet woman I’d known all my life had also turned childlike… no, scratch that… she was infant-like… and I mean that in the most literal way.

The last time I saw her, she barely communicated, ate, or moved at all.

But there were occasional flashes of recognition… 

“Sherry!” She said one day, with something akin to a twinkle.

Then she was gone again… just a tiny body in a hospital bed with bars.

Her final gift to me was a very short conversation we had… 

She said she saw angels flying around the ceiling. 

“They’re here for you,” I said to her. 

“No,” she said, eyes brimmed with tears. “They’re here for all of us.”

I told that story at her funeral. 

And many times afterward… even here, on this blog.

Whenever I share photos of Nana, someone invariably says how much we look alike.

I know that in a family of blue-eyed folks, she and I shared warm, chocolate-brown eyes. 

Lately, I recognize the smile, too. 

Today, it was hair. 

Nana dyed her hair for years. Right up until her late seventies! Even when it grew out natural, there was a lot of dark hair… the grey was threaded through.

I saw myself in the rearview mirror and thought… I’m sparkly with dark bits like Nana was!

And so I’d like to share a few things about Nana that make me smile, laugh, and/or cry a little… or a lot!

  • She never left the house without looking her best. Her daughter (my mother) inherited that trait. I did not (LOL)
  • She loved dogs
  • She was terrified of snakes
  • She loved to laugh – one of my favorite memories is of her being doubled over in laughter during “The Nutty Professor”
  • She loved root beer floats
  • When I was sick (as an adult) she would bring me OJ, cold medicine and chicken noodle soup
  • She routinely beat my ass at Gin Rummy
  • She loved gospel music and teared up at “How Great Thou Art”
  • Sometimes we drove around, just the two of us, to nowhere in particular
  • She loved Murder She Wrote, General Hospital, Wheel, and Jeopardy
  • She always looked for quality over price with one exception – She loved the very cheap Tru-Blu brand lemon cookies (Me too!)
  • She was my everything.

All I’m saying is that I noticed how my hair had sparkles like hers did…

And it made me think of her.

I miss Nana.

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