My grandmother died in her sleep yesterday, after 86 years of impressively thwarting all of the various illnesses that had tried to take her down. The woman had EVERYTHING, and survived it all. Then last spring she started to have heart troubles that affected her breathing and she was hospitalized for a while. She came out of that pretty well, but she caught the flu a little while ago and that combined with her heart/breathing issues proved to be too much.
I spent the day with my family, which was nice. It wasn’t overly morose or anything. Nan was 86, and we’ve all sort of been expecting this since the spring. We wrote up an obituary, which Nan would have liked a lot but which wasn’t really me. It was pretty Jesusy, and I’m very much a heathen. It’s what Nan would’ve wanted us to print, and most of my family really dug it, so that’s good. But it wasn’t me, so I’m writing this.
My grandmother was an impressive lady. My grandfather died when my dad was a kid, and Nan raised three kids on her own. Then after that, she got every illness possible. She had various sorts of cancer, and the doctors were ready to write her off a few times. I think she had an aneurysm or some other huge brain problem at one point. I was just a little kid when all of this happened, so I don’t really remember. She lived another 20 years after, and quite enthusiastically. Nan was the sort of lady who went to a senior’s dinner to help serve. She was a keener.
Nan had some fun quirks. She read ALL the time, especially books about royalty. She was all about the royal family, and the queen in particular, and that interest extended to other countries too. She read Nicholas and Alexandra every other summer. She also had barely any sense of taste left after her various illnesses, apart from stuff that was super strong or tart. So she ate for texture. She’d stick crackers or chips in her sandwiches, which would have the weirdest combination of fillings that sounded gross by flavour but super varied by texture. They were loud.
She liked to garden, she liked to swim, she liked off-colour humour but would try REALLY hard not to show it. She would NEVER ever ever play cards because someone at some point told her they were anti-Christianity in some capacity. Nan was very much a stickler that way. I don’t know if she ever set foot in a movie theatre, and was a very proper sort of lady generally. Which is why one of my favourite stories about Nan is that she secretly read Gone With the Wind by flashlight under her covers when she was a kid, even though she wasn’t supposed to get it out from the library. There was a bit of a rebel in her that she kept very tightly under wraps, but it came out every now and again.
And now she’s gone. It’s sad, but not unexpected. Most of my family were bummed but nonetheless considered it a “happy day” because she’s with Jesus. I wouldn’t call it a happy day, but Nan lived a very full life. She was super active well into her 80s, got to see her grandchildren grow up (and I got to tell her some fun news a month or so back that you all don’t know yet… she was over the moon excited), travelled all around the world in an epic adventure years ago, and it seemed like she was ready to go. She certainly wasn’t worried about dying. Part of that is the Jesus/heaven thing, of course, but I think part of it was that she was satisfied with everything she’d done and what she’d lived. It was certainly an impressive 86 years. I’m going to miss her, and her loud sandwiches.