Eleven years ago, I had the privilege of meeting an amazing woman. She was 84 years young and a going concern. The first day I met her it was clear that she loved to chat, she loved to bake and she was kind, sincere, hard working and generous.
I don’t think she had an easy life, but I knew right away that she was a giver. She was always concerned with the wellbeing of everyone around her – her family, her friends, her neighbours and anyone who was fortunate enough to be welcomed into her home for a biscuit or a piece of homemade gumdrop cake.
I have so much to thank her for.
Thank you, Nanny, for giving birth to the woman who gave birth to the love of my life. Thank you for helping to raise him and care for him when your son-in-law died tragically young, leaving your daughter a widow with a baby daughter and a young son. Because of you, my family grew. I gave you two more great grand children (and three step great grand children) but, thanks to you, I got a wonderful nanny, a mother-in-law, a sister-in-law, two nephews and a niece…and all the other extended family that came along with those new family members.
But, Nanny, thank you most of all for the gifts and lessons you gave to Emma and William. They loved you. They loved to visit with you and give you hugs and make you cards and chat your ear off. (Non stop!) On our last visit, William even did a dance for you. It was never a chore for them to spend time with you. If anything, they knew better than anyone how important it was to see you and visit with you as often as possible. My only regret is that we didn’t visit you more.
Today, you helped to teach them another incredibly valuable lesson: If we are lucky enough to live 95 good years, death is not scary. Death is not bad. Death is but a welcome part of a good life. It’s what gives us freedom from the chains of our bodies when our bodies grow tired and worn. I am so grateful that they had this time with you. I know that they will always remember the love they had for you. They are so blessed to have the good fortune to learn about death, for the first time, from you – someone they loved who lived a fulfilling 95 years, instead of someone they loved who died too soon.
They have so many questions about where you are now, physically and spiritually, and it’s hard and emotional and exhausting to answer them all. But it’s also interesting and fun and rewarding to answer them all. I’m so grateful that their first encounter with death is this one. Your death makes sense in so many ways. Crazy ways. Ways that would make even the most skeptical believe that there are bigger powers at work making sure that all is at is should be.
We have cried together in memory of, you, Nanny, and we have acknowledged how lucky all of us are to have known you, to have loved you and to have been loved by you.
Emma wants you to know that, one day, she will tell her own children that her “old nanny” died when she was seven years old and that she was very lucky to have you for so long.
I want to thank you for today, for this weekend, for letting me say goodbye to you in the most intimate of ways. To have been included as part of your small family when you took your last breaths was a gift I will always treasure.
Rest in Peace, Nanny. We will remember you always.