June 5, 2012

Celebrating a Woman's Life

"As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death."

- Leonardo da Vinci

It's so odd to me that I couldn't fall asleep last night. I found out this morning from my mom that her mother, my wonderful, loving grandmother, my Nanny, passed away in her sleep last night. My initial reaction was one of just pure calm because I couldn't help but be amazed that my Papa passed away in his sleep just over a year ago. I honestly can't think of any better way to leave this world than they did other than if they had done so together on the same night. I would say just over a year apart isn't so bad. He was 88, and then she was 89.

Her birthday was almost a month ago tomorrow, and my mom happened to visit her for that week between her birthday and Mother's Day. I had sent her a bouquet of flowers on her birthday, but then Mother's Day snuck up on me, and my card was several days late. I felt awful. I made sure to write her a nice note because she is seriously the most wonderful, patient, loving woman. She used to be a nurse and was the mother of seven children, 16 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren (with two more on the way). Everyone loved her.

It's funny the little things that strike you in hindsight. This past week, I received a thank-you note from her for the flowers I had sent, and Kyle had thrown it in the waste basket without realizing what it was. I saw it in there along with another piece of mail and pulled it out. I'm so glad I saw it. It's my last little piece of my grandmother. Something special from her to me. Gosh, she also gave me this wonderful set of vintage plates and cups and bowls the last time I saw her, and I just remembered that I never wrote her a formal thank-you note for that. I'm sure she knows how grateful I was, but I'm regretting that now. She had kept the whole set for something like 50 years without ever using it even once.

A few weeks ago, she told my aunt she saw a woman in white sitting on my Papa's side of the bed. She said she knew she wasn't dreaming because she had reached out to touch the woman. She had also seen a man in her bedroom shortly after my Papa passed away last year. Seriously, it is still so incredible to me that they both slipped away so peacefully into the night. No one saw it coming either time. I'm so happy for them. They were two of the hardest working people with the most integrity that I could ever imagine. They've created this huge family, and they only had to live without each other for a year.

I'm so glad my mom had that time with her mother last month. I think that will really help her get through this tough period knowing she had quality time with her toward the end. They were always very close, and I feel so lucky to be close like that with my mom. She learned everything she knew from my Nanny, and I told her that in her Mother's Day card. I'm so glad I did that because I really hesitated writing it and bringing up my Papa in it. But I don't think it helps to pretend people never existed. If anything, it must be more painful to have people dodge the topic around you when it's probably the majority of what you ever think about and wish so badly people would talk to you about.

In my post about my Papa, I mentioned how he built a birdhouse with me years ago, so birds always remind me of him. Today my mom said that when she learned about his passing, she looked out the kitchen window and saw a hummingbird. Then when she heard about my Nanny's passing this morning, she looked out her bedroom window and saw a mama bird feeding her baby bird. I know a lot of people attribute stuff like that to coincidences, but I tend not to.

I have so much more to say about my Nanny, and I want to give her all the credit and recognition she is due, so I'll be back soon enough.

Originally posted: 6/5/12

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