what my Nana taught me

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.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Deborah Goldstein June 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm

What a beautiful tribute.  I’m so sorry you had to say good-bye to a loving grandmother and someone who was clearly such an amazing role model.


Jnwfam June 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Wow, Amy!  I’m in puddles.  You really captured Nana.  Love you.


Aunt Marg June 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Beautiful, Amy. xo


BabyKMama June 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm

My grandfather liked butterscotch candies too!  One of the things I remember most about him – having a particular drawer in his kitchen, always stocked with butterscotch Lifesavers (I never did like them!)  You are so lucky to have had such a wonderful relationship with her!  


Susan hoffman June 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Such a nice contribution to the celebration of your Nana’s life.  Well done, Amy, just beautiful!


Kathy at kissing the frog June 8, 2012 at 9:26 am

Sorry for your loss, Amy.  Your Nana sounds like she was an amazing woman. Hugs!


Julie Falk June 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Sorry for your loss, Amy, but happy that you’re carrying on her spirit! XO


Experienced Bad Mom June 9, 2012 at 1:20 am

I’m sorry, Amy. Your post is a sweet tribute.


SquashedMom (Varda) June 9, 2012 at 9:30 am

Oh what a beautiful tribute to your Nana.  That she went out surrounded by the thoughts of so many; that she was her kind and sweet self up to the end, even though she was fading; that she lived her life giving and receiving love; these are all good things. So sorry for your loss, my friend. xoxo


Erin June 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm

You made her warmth radiate from the page. 


Stephanie Precourt June 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Gorgeous, Amy. She sounds like a wonderful woman. This was precious.



Lflan1ed June 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

What a beautiful tribute to your Nana.  xo


amywlsn June 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Thanks everyone. I am so grateful for each and every one of your responses. I’ve learned a lot in the last two weeks about what is and isn’t useful to do/say when a friend is grieving. Acknowledging the loss is always a great kindness.


dusty earth mother June 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm

You made me cry. Such a lovely and inspiring tribute, Amy. Thanks for sharing it with us.


Brenda June 14, 2012 at 4:18 am

Im sorry for your lost , my grandmother dies 1 year ago and it was really hard to me , i was the favorite also like you and im the oldest . grandmothers are so special to us and they give the most confortable hugs I almost feel with my memories those hugs of my grandma . I’ll never forget them .

( im not a quite good writer of my second lenguage : english , i like to buy books to improve my english , i found yours and its pretty good because im a mom , i feel like im not the one with a crazy mom love ” with worries and no breaks


Leigh Ann June 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss. Grandmothers, most of them anyway, are angels here on earth. What a beautiful testament to her. The part about her declaring her favorites made me smile.


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