My Nana died six days ago.We buried her on Tuesday. She was 92, her life was long and good, and of course all of us still grieved her passing with many hugs and tears.
I was the oldest of her 25 grandchildren, a pecking order that afforded me great privileges. I got to go with her on daylong trips downtown, browsing through the “notions” department at the Globe Store before dining at the unbelievably swank (at least to a seven-year-old) Charl-Mont Restaurant. I always felt like her special favorite, and what was really remarkable about Jane Ferguson was that she made all eight of her children and all twenty-five of her grandchildren feel the same way. I feel so lucky to have been the oldest of the grandchildren- next to her kids, I got to have had the most time with her.
As her mind became slowly more clouded each time I visited her over the last decade, first she’d know me but be shocked that I could possibly be old enough to be married. Then she forgot my name. Then she stopped recognizing me as one of hers. But she never ever stopped recognizing me as someone that she loved. “You’re my favorite,” she’d whisper fiercely, grabbing my hand, forgetting that she had just said the same thing to my mother, my aunt, and the nursing home attendant who had come to fetch her for lunch. We were all her favorites, and of course it made us laugh, but deep inside I think we all thought: yes, but when she says it to me it’s true.
Our large extended family pored through old pictures to create a slideshow for Nana’s funeral. This was a picture of my grandmother that I had never seen before.
One tends to forget that before a grandmother was a grandmother, pressing butterscotch candies into your hand just as the lights darkened at your brother’s graduation, she was a young woman, laughing and loving and looking toward her future. But even though I never knew this Jane Ferguson, I knew this happiness, this love, this expectation that today would be full of great things.
I hope I can bring half the joy to raising my children that my Nana brought to raising us. I hope I can make each of my children feel that they are my most very special favorite. Life is fleeting. Nothing else matters. Even to the very end, my Nana chose joy.
‘Twas heaven here with you, Nana. I loved you so.