Wednesday 7 February 2007

The Source of All Wisdom

Two years ago today my Nanny, my father's mother, passed away. Her name was Joyce Elaine (Carson) Smith.

I've written about her in previous posts and if you know me at all, you will know that she was a very influential person in my life. When I was at university, I lived with her. She beamce a friend in addition to being my grandmother. She cooked dinner for me and my friends and was always in my life. She helped guide me through the rocky waters of growing up and gave me the benefit of her wisdom. It was not always what I wanted to hear but always what I needed. She encouraged me to work hard at school and my career. She praised my little successes. She held my hand through my disappointments. She never judged me and encouraged me to find my own bliss.

She was an generous woman who worked right up until the last month of her life as a carer for others. Others who were younger but less strong. There was always the meal you were craving in her fridge and she wouldn't hesitate to fix it for you. After my grandfather died she never remarried, never even looked at another man. She hated Saturday nights because she said these were the loneliest. She played pinochle and I regret not having her teach me this skill. She taught me loads of other stuff though and nearly all of my cooking skills are thanks to her. She made the best rhubarb pie in the world and was never afraid to surprise her family with new culinary adventures which tended to become family favourites.

She travelled extensively and we were quite surprised to learn during a family road trip that she had travelled to more countries than any one else in the family (including me) and nearly all of the 50 states.

She learned how to work a computer and stayed in touch via email, webcam and we had even set up a Skype account for her (which regrettably we never got to use).

Having grown up during the great depression, she saved everything. But then again if you asked her for something she usually had it.....and she could find it. She was amazingly organised!

She wore a bright blue dress on her wedding day she told me the year before she died. I was "interviewing" her just trying to capture some of the details of her life. She had trouble remembering things. But her eyes lit up when I asked her about her wedding. She told me she got married in the morning. Apparently, it was bad manners to get married in the afternoon because people had chores to do on the farm and you couldn't waste a whole day at a wedding!

She was due to visit me the week after she died. She had called a few days before this and said she thought she would probably have to postpone her trip. We got busy talking about the next best time and agreed September would be best and that she needed to concentrate on getting better (like she had done every time before).

When my father called to tell me she had passed on, my world tipped off its axis and I stuggled to breath. The next 2 days (whilst we sorted out flights) were some of the hardest days of my life. I was so far away from the family I needed to grab a hold of. The flight to Colorado seemed never to end . The grief would just sweep over me like a dark night with no stars or moon. There was no controlling the tears flowing from my eyes, down my cheeks, on to my neck, wetting my shirt.

My sister and I wrote a eulogy which we read at her funeral and I still read it when I want to feel close to Nanny. It is undoubtably the best thing my sister and I have ever done.

Nanny held our family together. Every Christmas Eve she held a big party for everyone and the family would gather. That tradition has died with her sadly and it breaks my heart.

I miss Nanny every day. She is still on my telephone speed dial and listed on my Christmas card, webcam and skype list. She is still in my telephone book (like I could ever forget her telephone number!) Her birthday is still in my birthday card file and diary. I come across problems and think to myself I need to call Nanny and ask her opinion. Now I call someone else.

I would not be the person I am today if she had not been in my life. I am sad that my children will not know her and that more people in the world didn't know her faith, enthusiasm and kindness. The best I can do is as she taught me.