“Now I’m old and feeling gray
I don’t know what’s left to say
About this life I’m willing to leave
I lived it full, I lived it well
As many tales I live to tell
I’m ready now, I’m ready now
I’m ready now
To fly from the highest wing
I had a dream.”
(~from Priscilla Ahn’s “Dream”)
On a visit not long before she had to live in a nursing home, I spent time sitting next to my Nanny on the couch and just catching up. I shared stories about the children and escapades around our home describing rooms and flowers and scenery in vivid detail. Then she shuddered deeply, sighed and wiped away tears, “I guess we’ll never get to see your new house.” I grasped her hand and looked at her. I wanted to grab her and drag her to my car and drive 3 hours just so she could see it in person, so she could know it and imagine it and feel us living there. (She has since seen my house… what a gift from God!)
Instead I sat next to her and mingled my tears with hers, and I marveled again at how much of me I see in her. She wears her heart on her sleeve and will cry at the drop of a hat. Every meal when we pray, every time I kiss her hello or goodbye, every time we talk about life, there are tears. She drinks deeply of her emotions and isn’t afraid to show them. She drinks deeply because she loves deeply.
But it’s her strength that blows me away. After my pappy’s first heart attack when I was less than a year old, Nanny took over, doing what she had to do to care for him and her family. Pap worked in his barber shop (side note: I think that’s awesome!) until his health stopped him, and she worked in the post office as postmistress of her little town. She worked until she retired and yet managed to cook and can and garden with Pap. So much of life revolved around their kitchen. They lived a lot of life together there.
And her love? Oh, her love. Her love drove her to care for him daily. She dealt with her own health issues, but she was always there for him. Always. And she rarely got a break. But it’s okay, because she was just doing what she needed to do.
While it was Pap who was busy playing with us as kids, she was the quiet comfort, cooking the food and helping Mom around the house. She was the prankster with my dad, joking constantly with her son-in-law who she took into her family as if he was one of her own. And then she became the prankster with my Bri, teasing him playfully and welcoming him as she welcomed my father years ago.
On beach vacations, she would bring gifts for us every day. Nan’s Glad Bag she called it, full of dollar store toys for us as special treats. And she would sit and cry during every family worship time, so thankful to be with her family and loving the Lord together.
Mom told us today that they are calling in hospice for her. She is not long for this world… not long at all. While I know her home is in Heaven, while I know she will no longer be suffering here, while I know she loves her Jesus and she will be made whole in so many ways, the thought of her loss to us is hard. There is a grief that settles as I think about life here without her in it.
She’s the one who made the decision to end her transfusions. She knows it’s time to go.
She has always been so beautiful to me. My Nanny. With her porcelain skin and snow white hair, I often tell her I want her complexion when I’m old. (Actually, I want her complexion now!)
But there is so much more to her beauty than that.
I want her spirit and her faith, her strength and her servant heart, her legacy and her love.
She’s ready now…
I love you, dear Nanny. Always and forever.