I consider myself lucky for getting to meet my great grandmother. She was a wonderful woman, a huge influence on many of the readers in my family, and the glue that held together her sons’ families, especially in the younger generations. A year ago today, she passed, and I wanted to take some time to tell her story and the impact she’s had on my life.
It wasn’t wholly surprising: she had been praying for a while for her time to be done and failing fast both physically and mentally, but it was still sad to see her go. She was one of the first family members I met as a baby and we always made time to see at least two times a year. She was a constant in my life for so long that I hadn’t much considered what life would be like without her.
She was smart, too. A teacher and a strong presence at her church, Nana taught both in the classroom and outside of it. Her bookshelves would leave a library jealous, and she probably read the Bible at least twice as many times as the number of years I’ve been alive. She passed those books onto many of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. I have some of her Bible study books, historical books, and fiction. As she got older, it was common to see her with a stack of books and a crossword puzzle next to her chair. It was hard to watch her memory and eyesight go, and I think more-so for her sons and grandchildren.
Like I said earlier, she was the glue that held my mom’s side of the family together. Her two sons raised their family in very different places, and consequently I’ve felt like she was one of the few things I shared with that part of my family. Whenever we stopped by to see her, we saw other family members and got to share stories and laughs. Weddings, funerals, holidays: these are the times family from further away came, and all from this one link we had. I’m sorry that more of the family couldn’t make it to her funeral, because it very well might have been the last time I would see them.
She used to let me and my sister have Apple Jacks when we would visit, something our parents didn’t let us have at home because they have too much sugar. Our great uncle was across the street, she had dolls our mom and aunts used to play with, and there was a little birdcage on top of a music box in the room we used to use at her old house. There was always at least one cat walking around somewhere in the yard, there were tomato plants in the greenhouse on the back of the house, and there were pictures of everyone in her family on the fridge.
She loved plants. Various fruits and vegetables, flowers, and other plants were all over her house. It was always so green, and there are a few pictures we have of me, my sister, and Nana standing under the tree in the front yard. My grandfather and great uncle were raised on the farm they had, and she raised her sons to get their work done and do it well, along with help others; lessons they passed onto their children and grandchildren.
Nana grew up in a vastly different world from the one I’ve grown up in: the Great Depression vs. the early 21st Century. This November, she would have turned 97, and the lessons she learned in her life have influenced the values the rest of her family has. And while we may sometimes have differing views, we will always have those some values learned and taught by the same wonderful woman.