Thursday, April 11, 2013

Losing Nana

This week I lost my Nana.  I've always wondered why we use the term "lose" when someone dies.  While she may not be hanging out at my house for Thanksgiving anymore, there are so many parts of her that are still here.  These are just a few things I know we have not lost:
Faye Lorraine
  1. My Nana was a survivor.  She lived through the Great Depression, she lost a parent when she was young, she sent her brother off to war, and she raised two daughters through hard times.  Her ability to keep going taught me a lot, and that has not been lost.
  2. My Nana was childlike.  I don't think I've ever met a person easier to pull a prank on than my Nana.  The list of crazy things we did to her was pretty long.  There were the classics, like short sheeting the bed, or saran wrapping the toilet, but there were also the more elaborate jokes.  I will never forget the wide eyed look she would get when you told her a complete and utter fib. Once we told her there were giant lizards that lived in Arizona (which is true) and that she needed to watch her small dogs to make sure they didn't bite or lick the frogs because they were poisonous (also true).  Then we bought a large porcelain frog, meant to be a yard ornament, and put it on the bottom of the swimming pool in her backyard.  The water refracted the light, making the 14" frog look like a 36" frog.  When she looked out her window later that day she screamed bloody murder because the giant frog was coming to eat her dogs.  What made the prank even funnier was that we had forgotten we put the frog there, and were equally scared until we remembered what we had done.  I think it took her a week to forgive us, but truth be known, she loved every minute of it!  That childlike excitement and glee has not been lost.
  3. My Nana was a little nutty.  I remember her singing slightly risque songs, making off color jokes, and offering bizarre solutions to situations at every turn.  She was a card shark and a lover of Swedish meatballs.  She always dressed well, and was worried about wrinkles.  She dyed her hair fire engine red and drove a car with a license plate 'Wild One."  I don't know if age had eliminated her inhibitions, or if she had always been a fire cracker.  I learned how to be myself, even if I was a little nutty and crazy, from my Nana, and that won't be lost.
  4. My Nana valued education.  I remember her telling me from a very young age that I needed to go to college and get a good education.  I also remember knowing it wasn't an option.  While she had not attended college, her daughters did, and I knew I would too.  When I headed off to school she delivered boxes of towels, dishes and linens so I could start my new life.  I knew she was proud of me and that I needed to get an engineering degree as much for her as for me.  My appreciation of the value of education will not be lost.
  5. My Nana had perspective.  A lot of hard things happened to my Nana and I spent many hours as a child listening to her stories.  When I would ask her why such a thing would happen, she would simply reply, "That's just the way it was."  Sometimes she got angry about things that had happened, and that was not a pretty sight, but most of the time she would explain why it didn't matter anymore and then crack a joke.  Her ability to move on taught me a lot about how to handle life, and that won't be lost.
I will be the first to tell you my Nana was flawed.  In fact, if I sat down and thought about it, I'm sure I could wax poetical on her flaws for many hours.  In the end, however, all those flaws will be lost.  No one will remember those things.  Maybe we don't want to, or maybe her flaws really aren't that important.

The most important thing I will never lose is her love.  I knew my Nana always loved me.  Through every day, every prank, every game of cards, every late night chat, and every heartfelt conversation, my Nana loved me.   I won't forget that, and I'll never lose it.

So once again, I wonder why we refer to death as losing someone.  She is not lost.  She never will be.

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