Sometimes things happen in life and you don't get a second to sit and think about it. Studies have shown that the actual action of "processing" critical life events is a huge part of our ability to understand, cope and react to such things in our life. In the last year, I've lost two other people and during these two transitions, I was an emotional mess. I'm talking ugly crying times 10 and actually using a bereavement day (considering I barely use PTO) to have a binge eating bed picnic. Typically this involves "Winnie-the-Poohing" the shit out of sprinkles (yes, actual ice cream sprinkles) as well as copious amounts of cheese.
But something new happened this time.
One of the most influential people in my life passed away last weekend.
Nanna. (She's the smiley, cotton candy haired lady on the home page)
It wasn't expected. It was sudden. And she was gone.
I know some people think of grandparents as being old and so thats what happens when you get old. But she was different. How many grandmas do you know that you could talk to about any subject? She was relatable to anyone, at any age. She said that was because she was always around younger people, being the youth group leader at her church, but i think it was because she never let life get too serious.
My reaction to this transition was different than any other. Following the initial cry, I could only think about my mother and my Pappa. I wanted to be there for them. So I grabbed the crock pot and we flew over to the house and started cooking. Between that week at work (no bereavement just a previously scheduled PTO day), coordinating items for family coming into town, a prior community event obligation, my health and trying to be a good mom, everything was a blur. I just kept going and caught myself talking to her in my car like she hadn't gone anywhere.
I wasn't sad, stressed, but not sad. I spoke at the funeral with the most eloquence I have ever had and was able to support my other family members that I needed to be there for. I felt like I was delusional or in denial about the whole thing, but its actually been the best outcome for me. I am just going to keep talking to her as if she never left. But in an effort to formally "process", I wanted to share the most important things that Nanna left me with that will live on in my family and will allow her to stay with me forever.
1. Your Faith is everything.
She set the bar high and her relationship with the lord was something to be admired. While I may not reach the level of strength she had, I will carry on my faith through my life and my own family. It is something I regard in the highest and no one can ever take that away from you. She taught others that being a Christian is not about being perfect or telling others how to live, but rather its simply living your life to the best of your ability based on scripture.
2. "You're not fat, You're Healthy"
I will never forget when Nanna said this to me. I was 13, and going through something noone at such an age should go through. Medicine preceded to increase my weight and lets just say the likes of the "the plastics" were not inviting me to sit at their table anytime soon. While her comment didn't solve my issue, it stuck with me. It became the bar by which I gauge the opinions of others and helped me develop the confidence required for the world in which we live. Because in the end, who cares what the hell you look like? Focus on your blessings in life and the rest is obsolete.
She went above and beyond for her own family. Her children were cherished and her husband was deeply loved. Her efforts as a mother and wife were that of unimaginable proportion. Again, I can only attempt to live up to her example, but some things were as simple as decorating for the holiday, cooking the best stuff on earth and always taking extra time to sit and listen to the members of your family. When push comes to shove these people are going to be the only ones that have your back.
4. Scalloped Potatoes, Sandtart Cookies & Cheese Grits.
These traditions were at the top of my list when it came to her cooking. This year I will have my first attempt at her scalloped potatoes, which she made every thanksgiving and Christmas at our begging. The second, Sandtarts, is a hidden family recipe for a flat cookie, similar to a smooshed snickerdoodle. I had the luxury of making them with her one year, thank god for that, or else I would not be able to do them this year. Only, she would bake batches for each family member for Christmas, as there was all out guerrilla warfare to find peoples hidden cookie stash. Hoping to attempt this one as well. The last, is something I already implemented and mastered. Hers called for extra cheese and added butter. My daughter is already a fan favorite.
5. Little Women & Steel Magnolias
When I used to spend nights out at her house, she would take me to go rent a movie and get bags of popcorn. The movies we always watched together were Little Women and Steel Magnolias. I still cannot get through either of these freakin movies without a box of kleenex. The only upside is that now I can better appreciate the beauty of Christian Bale (uh yea, he's in it) and was able to start my daughter young with the theme of her first birthday posted here.
6. Barking Spiders are not Mythological Creatures.
They are real. They exist. Read more here
7. Smiling Increases Your Face Value
In all the pictures I found from her past and the ones I have, I never found one she wasn't smiling in.... And thus I leave you with the Beauty that is Nanna
I am glad I still have her daughter, my mom, to help me become just like her.
Talk to you tomorrow Nanna,
C. & G.