Monday, June 4, 2012


Nana and I about 1991 -we're both goofs
My Nana’s first name is Alison. (she changed the spelling after she moved to Canada, but that’s a post for another time).

Nana was born on December 20, 1921. I like this because she was exactly fifty years older than me.

When my Nana was a lass living in Edinburgh, Scotland trying to survive the war, she was hanging out with one of her friends when they met a couple of soldiers that were on leave. The soldiers invited them to go roller skating. One of those soldiers was my grandfather.

They fell in love and got married. “I wore a grey suit because the saying said, ‘get married in grey, live far away’, and I wanted to get as far away from Scotland as possible.” I guess the West Coast of Canada was pretty far away.

Nana moved to military housing north of London. My grandfather was a courier for the army. He drove a Norton motorcycle along the truck convoys relaying messages from front to back. Cool, eh?

My dad was born July 20, 1942. My uncle followed thirteen months later.

When peace was called in 1945, the army sent all the war brides “home”, meaning to the homes of the men. The men were to stick around and clean up.

My Nana is a queen. She took my toddler dad and my babe-in-arms uncle on a ship across the Atlantic to Nova Scotia Canada. From there, she got on a train to travel to the West Coast to meet her in-laws for the first time and to set up a home. My grandfather came back a year later.

I have been known to say that I know exactly what I’m going to be like when I grow up because I’m going to be just like my Nana. Our personalities are very similar and we have the same sense of humour. We both are obsessed with; dogs, Hawaii, turquoise (our birthstone), British Columbia, and the Native people. I’m her first grandchild and I’m pretty sure I was her favourite (I can hope). I love my Nana so so much.

She passed away in 2010 and I was unable to attend her funeral because we had already planned a trip to Disneyland at the same time. I feel super awful for missing Nana’s funeral to go to Disneyland, but it's not like I was going to be able to see her.

My husband had been nagging and nagging me every time I made a trip home to go and see my Nana. When I was growing up, my Nana was THE BOSS and everyone knew it. She was strong and opinionated and you knew exactly where you stood with her. She. Did. NOT. Mince. Words. She was a sarcastic woman. Look up tenacity in the dictionary: Oh look, there’s a picture of Nana! She ruled the roost. She had to be tough to go through what she did and to raise three boys with a truck driver husband.

When she got older, she started to lose her faculties. I had gone up on December 1, 2007 for my uncle’s funeral and saw her. It broke my heart. She was living in a home by this time and my dad’s youngest brother was taking care of her. I couldn’t even look at her, even though her once black, then silver hair had turned to a beautiful snowy white. Every time I talked to her I could see that the lights were on, but no one was home. I was so so very sad to see that powerful woman completely gone. She kept asking me how old I was and how old my brother was. I could see her trying to figure everything out and weed through the cobwebs to get the right memory, but she couldn’t quite get there. I imagine it was exhausting for her.

Every time DH would ask me if I was going to go see Nana after that, I would tell him I didn’t have time. One time he pushed the issue, telling me she would leave us one day and that I would regret it. I broke down in tears telling him that I couldn’t see her any more because she wasn’t there. She was just an empty shell, and my Nana was already gone. It broke my heart to see her. He reiterated to me that I might regret not saying goodbye to her.

I had my 20th high school reunion in October of 2009. I went up by myself and was only gone the weekend. I had decided to not tell anyone I was visiting except my mum whose couch I was surfing, and my uncle who took care of my Nana. I requested a visit with Nana. When my uncle entered her room he told her he had brought her two surprises, the first being his collie, Joey; her response being “oh HELL-o Joey!” (my love of dogs is genetic) the second being me. “OH! Rantgirl!” She was so happy to see me (told you I was her favourite - full disclosure, she's my favourite too). She remembered me, but didn’t remember that I was married or had any children, but that didn’t matter. We had a WONDERFUL visit. She even told me how good I looked: “pleasantly plump. I’m glad to see you’re not so skinny any more”. I was concerned about my weight even back then, but seeing what a skeleton Nana was – virtually wasting away – I was not offended but flattered. (from then on I had decided to “own” my curves as I had never had them before – thanks for the encouragement, Nana).

When I left the nursing home, I gave her a hug and a kiss and told her goodbye, knowing that would be the last time I saw her. She passed away the following March.

The moment I knew she was gone, I felt her with me. I still do today. I especially feel her judging me when I yell at my own boys.

I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to say goodbye to my Nana.

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