I remember the smell of turkey on Thanksgiving as I walked in the door, the warm hug and loving exclamation of my name, the obvious happiness whenever she would see me. Hers was not a fancy place, but warm and welcoming.
Nana spent time. She played Candyland and Scrabble, took me to amusement parks and for long walks. She read to me, and cared about my day. She talked with me instead of at me and made me laugh whenever she could. I miss her.
Married to an abusive alcoholic Nana had known loss, heartbreak and suffering. Her face was lined, wrinkled in testament to her struggles, yet her eyes still twinkled merrily. She had raised four children to adulthood, men and women with strong moral compasses who improved the world they lived in. Her children were always her greatest source of joy. She never let struggle harden her heart.
Nana was open and loving, supportive and kind. She was an original. With oodles of curiosity and a willingness to experience new things she often surprised us with her sense of adventure. Whether taking me on a roller coaster or boating across a lake, hunting for Easter eggs or watching Batman she lived in the moment. She was present and sharing that moment with you as if it were a gift. She had boundless spirit. I never doubted that she loved me.
At Nana’s I always felt special. I was not her only grandchild but recognized that the bond we shared was unique to the two of us, and I am certain that each of her grandchildren felt the same. She listened and laughed, challenged and comforted. Her home was my second home where I was always welcome.
I will be Nana soon. I am excited and hopeful. We do not fully understand the impact our extended family has on us when we are young. Yes we know we love our grandparents, aunts and uncles but we do not yet know how cherished the memories of our times together will be. I had a good set of parents, but the impact of my extended family was enormous. I had so many role models, each of them with special wisdom and experiences to gift me. I was shaped through their lives and love. They are part of the woman I am. I will forever be enormously grateful for the time we shared.
My grandchildren will know the unconditional love of Nana. I look forward to sharing time and building memories. I hope to be part of our family legacy, by sharing the warmth, kindness and wisdom I was lucky enough to grow with. It is an honor and privilege to try. I understand what a difference it can make.
I spent every Thanksgiving with my Nana. Now I am simply thankful to have known her.