Yesterday, after suffering a stroke last week, my wonderful, smart, feisty grandmother passed away. She was 92 years old and sharp as a tack until the very end. I was fortunate enough to see her last weekend in the hospital and give her a hug and a kiss and tell her how much I loved her. But it’s never really enough.
My Nana was a very special lady. She was incredibly smart and remembered everything. She was a ferocious scrabble player but insisted on never keeping score because playing was about the love of words. She would do the Sunday Times crossword in pen and most of the time would finish it.
Over the past ten years I have been tasked with driving Nana back and forth from New Jersey to Maryland for every holiday, birthday and major family event. Although I often dreaded having to go an hour out of my way to have to go pick her up, in hindsight I was grateful for those every 6 or 7 hours we got to spend together out of every vacation. She would ask me about my life and what I was doing. She remembered every name and minute detail about all of my friends. And she lovingly took an interest in my husband Geoff when he started tagging along on these trips. We would share a bar of dark chocolate that I would always try to get her for the trip and discuss the latest movies, politics and television shows. Every once in a while she would give me some nugget of history, either a story about my grandfather or about her family and I treasure these stories. I am so lucky that I got to have this time with my Nana, even if I didn’t appreciate it at the time. At the end of each of these trips as I would take her back to her apartment, my otherwise stoic grandmother would tear up and ask me to call or come visit more often. I would promise to do so but not follow up as much as I should have.
I guess what I’m saying is, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, sibling all know that you love them. But it never hurts to make that extra effort. Give that person you’ve been meaning to call a call. Give them that 5 minutes of your precious time just to say hi, I love you, I miss you. You never know when you won’t have that chance again.
Nana, I love you so much and I miss you. When I’m driving home next week for Thanksgiving, my heart will ache when I look at the seat that you should be sitting in.
The funeral will be held at 1:00pm on Sunday at the Menorah Chapel in Millburn, NJ. We will be sitting Shiva on Sunday night at 333 Elmwood Ave, Maplewood, NJ on Sunday and then in Bethesda, MD the rest of the time.