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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Eulogy for Nana

Last Friday evening we held a memorial service for my grandmother. I was very surprised to see some people attend and also disappointed not to see some others that I had expected (not including those whom I had spoken to earlier – I understand why you couldn’t be there). In the end, there could have been 1 person or 100 and it wouldn’t have mattered to me because this was all for Nana and I know that she was there in spirit.

While many people could not attend, a number have asked me for a copy of my eulogy so that they could read it. So, I figured I would save myself some time and post it here for all of you to see as well.

Strong, independent, courageous, artistic, imaginative, free spirited, and brave... Stubborn, hard headed, argumentative, and sometimes unreasonable... These are all adjectives that have come to characterize me over the years. Some are quite positive, and others, not so much. But, before these words were ever used to describe me, anyone who knew her knew that they described my grandmother and I am proud to say that in all of those ways and more I definitely take after my Nana.

She was born December 11, 1919, in England. She was the second oldest of 5 children, 4 girls and 1 boy. She married my grandfather in 1947, here in Montreal, and together they had only one child, my mother. I was her only grandchild and she was the only grandmother I ever knew growing up. At 92, she had outlived all of her siblings, her husband, and many of her friends.

Over the last few years I have tried to take the time to find out more about her life as a child, her family, why she signed up for WWII, why she came to Canada, and anything else she could share with me. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago we began working on a detailed family tree together and I learned even more about her family. She was filled with stories and always ready to share them with anyone who would listen. She could remember years and dates and stories she had been told dating back to before she was ever born! Her head was filled with tales and history and I am happy that she shared them with me; I only wish there had been time for more.

My grandmother was also a writer. She would write me children’s stories when I was younger that were better than any book you could buy. I still have some of them tucked away. She loved to draw, sew and do crafts as well. She loved to cook, bake and experiment in the kitchen. And she had many, many, friends surrounding her. Half the time you called you would get a busy signal! I have learned more about her in the last couple of years than I ever have before... and, in turn, I have learned more about myself.

There are countless stories I could tell you about her, but there is one in particular that she loved and shared the most. She has told me the story countless times, as recently as a month ago, so I will share it with you today on her behalf. Apparently, when I was younger, someone came up to me and said “Did you know that your grandmother looks like the Queen of England”? And I, being cut from the same cloth as my Nana, turned and replied “No she doesn’t! The Queen looks like MY Nana”! She laughed whenever she told that story... and I will miss hearing it in her own words.

In the end, everything happened so quickly. She was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and she asked me to come the next morning with a bag of things for her and said she was looking forward to seeing me. But the minute I saw her the next morning, I knew things had taken a turn for the worse. She asked relentlessly, through strained breaths, for a cup of tea and I knew then that that was all I could do for her anymore. When the nurses asked her if she was feeling alright she would say she was fine, but when they started the morphine she reached for my hand and held it tightly. We all knew what was coming.

In a strange way, I am glad that things happened the way that they did because she didn’t suffer for long. She had already been through so much in her life... she deserved to die peacefully, painlessly, and with dignity and that is exactly what she did. As my mother reminded me, her favourite song was “My Way” by Frank Sinatra... and that is exactly how she lived and died... her way, with a cup of tea.

We often say that people have a guardian angel watching over them. I don’t know if I did before, but I certainly will now. Since my grandfather passed in 1992 I have worn a poppy on Remembrance Day in his honour; to remember him as well as his service in WWI and II. This year I am saddened, but will also be proud to wear 2 poppies – one for each of my grandparents who are no longer with us.

Thank you all again for your endless support; it means the world to me. And, in the words of my Nana, “I will love and leave you now...”