Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tell Me About You

As I drove to class this past weekend, I talked to my mom on the phone about the girls night she and others were going to be having at my grandmother's (or, "Nana," as I call her).  They were going to have games, food, and lots of fun, an evening truly not to be missed, especially in light of her upcoming 90th birthday.  Also in light of her approaching 90th, my mom wanted to make sure she was up for the action and Nana assured her she was when she vowed "if I get too tired, I'll just go to bed." So, it was settled, but we know all too well the truth that rings forth  from Proverbs 19:21 that says: "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.," and Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 that says this: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die." A man will live only until his appointed time to die, not a day less or more, and no one knew that morning that Nana wouldn't make it to that girls night after all.  Before the day's end, she was rushed to the hospital and never left.  Though her spirit ascended, her sweet, tired body gave out.  Nana's Ecclesiastes 3:2 moment finally came and she died that day.  When I received word from my sister, I sat in class 2,000 miles away, helpless to do anything at all.  So I prayed.  I prayed and fought to stay focused on the lecture, but to no avail.  As I closed my eyes tightly to prevent tears from falling, I could think of nothing besides Nana, and knowing the improbability of being able to fly in for the funeral, I only thought about it all more. The memorial service has come and gone now, but visions of her continue to flood my mind and I've had time to consider what I would say if I saw her today.

For as long as I can remember, Nana has been a part of my life.  My earliest memories include her and though the last seven years that I've been away have made seeing her on a regular basis difficult, she has still always just been there which makes the reality of her absence hard to fathom. In sorting through the various memories, it occurs to me that what I long most to say to her, besides I love you, is this: Nana, tell me about you. I've discovered over the last few days that what I would say to her is really quite little, and that the more important words to be spoken would come, not from me, but her.  I don't long to say many words, but to have attentive ears. My greatest yearning right now is to know her, not as I believed her to be, but as she really was and from the lips of her own mouth.  How often do we miss this in people because we don't take time to listen?

As I traverse through the past in search of words spoken by her, I find myself inundated with memories and stories.  My first in home lessons on the piano were in her house, the first conceptions I have of Santa and Christmas were formed from within the walls of her living room, and the special way she made me a mayonnaise, lettuce, and cheese sandwich (to this day I still cut them just like she always did), has stayed with me into adulthood, and don't even get me started on the time she caught me breaking eggs into a toilet.  I remember her so warmly, yet in the wake of her death, I realize that our relationship, at least in recent years, primarily consisted of me talking in response to her inquiries of my well-being.  Nana was on to something.  She didn't talk about herself unless asked, but instead always asked me about me and let me do the talking.  I never took that time to just sit in her presence and learn and listen, and oh how I yearn now to know what she could teach me through her many fruitful years of experience and words of wisdom.  

As the pool of memories continued to swirl in recent days, I remembered that my first real exposure to freshly grown garden food came from the top of her dining room table.  No one's corn or tomatoes has ever compared, and from around that same garden, she helped me grow my first (and last as it turns out I do not have a green thumb) sunflower plant that forever hooked me on its seeds.  I remember the smell of peppermint that always followed her, but never quite fully masked the cigarette smoke that often surrounded her.  They combined to form a distinct "Nana fragrance" that I can almost breathe in today at the thought of her.  But only just almost.  I recall her sassy and independent spirit and I wonder what she must have felt in these last years as that independence slowly slipped away.  I wonder if she really knew on the inside that I loved her.  Or, did the absence of regular phone calls and visits from me leave her unsure? I believe she knew, but how differently I would do things if she was still here. 

Take the time to listen to what others have to say and worry less about what you have to say.  Pray for ears that hear and eyes that see (Proverbs 20:12 ).  Don't wait until someone you love is gone to really get to know them. Let them do the talking.  I have spent many conversations with others as the listener, but many more as the talker.  I want to be a listener.  I have spent a great deal of time in thought over her since she passed, and I realize that while I would say to her, Nana, I remember you and love you, the more important words would come after I would say Nana, tell me about you. 

I've included a song below that brings sweet memories of her to the forefront of my mind.  

I love you so so much, Nana, and I remember you.  

                                      Youtube Video Credit:


1 comment:

  1. So sorry, Heather. What a blessing to have known her and been loved by her!

    I think our elders enjoy hearing about our lives far more than we realize, for I, too, have wondered with my grandmothers and other family if I do too much of the talking. But think about how much you love Ashton! Would you not just sit and listen to him tell you about his life for years! Of course you would! That's how special we are to our grandparents.

    Don't beat yourself up any more! Bask in your beautiful memories of your Nana.

    Love you!