This Sweet Nanny of Mine
If the universe has a plan for all of us, somebody out there already knows how our stories end. My Nanny (maternal grandmother) is spending the last of her days in a nursing home, medicated, tired, delirious and as pain-free as the doctors can keep her. At her bedside Tuesday night, I watched her sleep. I listened to her mumble. I heard her ask the Lord to take her away - she's pretty Catholic so this is like the home run for her and I got a glimpse of that humour that is so common in my family that I can't help but share it when friends ask me how my Nanny is doing.
My Nanny was born on a farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. My mom's family is all from down east and we're story tellers, can find the humour in the worst situations and above all, take care of each other. My aunts have been with my Nanny non-stop since the doctors decided not to take any heroic measures last Thursday. My sister Chels has taken the bus to the nursing home. My cousin Kate has spent every spare moment beside our Nanny. Cousins, uncles, aunts and relatives have all come to say good bye to Mary Eileen Lewis. Well, if I'm being honest her married name is Vowles - She remarried years after my Papa passed away - but you can ask her and she'll tell you that she's only really loved my Papa and so I still think of her as a Lewis. http://genealogy.about.com/od/surname_meaning/p/lewis.htm
When she was a young woman (more like barely a woman since this is ages ago and people married young), she fell in love with my Papa, who lived on the next farm. Edward Lewis was older, taller - not hard to be taller than Nanny, she's like five foot two with her best heels on - handsome, had a wicked sense of humour and one afternoon he took her out for ice cream. This might not seem like a big deal to any of us, but over 60 years ago, taking somebody in to town to have an ice cream was HUGE. Anyways, she was already in love with him at that point and they were married soon after. Their love affair brought them to Ontario. Gave them six children, 11 grand children and 9 great-grand children. Not to brag or anything, but we're all pretty entertaining, funny, charming and pretty darn nice to look at. Most importantly though, we're all very lucky to have each other and it's the example my grand parents set in how to take care of friends and family that has made me one of the luckiest people I know. My family is close. There aren't tonnes of us, but enough to fill up a room and among my best friends, I count my cousin Jen as the closest. We're so close in fact that Jen and I are more like sisters. We were born four months apart and raised side by side in matching outfits, but different colours. Up until a few years ago we'd still get the same gifts from everyone, but in different colours. Our tastes have since matured.
Nanny had a rebirth after my Papa passed away. She's was too young to remain a widow and for the first time in her life had possibilities to do what she wanted. She moved to a condo in Thornhill and had that puppy decorated in true Golden Girls fashion. My uncle used to call it "Hollywood" because it was flashy. She had a white Christmas tree with all peach and mint green ornaments. Honestly, it was like waking up in pastel heaven. So girlie for the 80s and so my Nanny. She went on cruises with her sister. Came to Florida with my mom, Aunt Sharon, Jen and I and basically spoiled us the entire time we were there. If we wanted a chocolate bar at 8am, Nanny would give it to us. About 20 minutes later when the chaos would ensue as Jen and I started tearing each other apart, my mom and Aunt could only blame my sweet little Nanny.
I never really understood aging growing up. I remember when Nanny stopped dying her hair and how my mom took notice. I didn't think it was a big deal, but now I understand how it was a symbol of aging and accepting that life moves forward. My Nanny is ready to go and although it really stings, I'm happy she's okay with it. The other night she told us that her boyfriend was coming to pick her up and take her out for a burger. I asked her if she'd get a milkshake and with her eyes still closed she licked her lips and muttered, 'Oh yes!" She's 82. She does not have a boyfriend and she was telling us all this from the hospital bed in her room at the nursing home. She's out there these days, but it's still amusing.
On Sunday she made my aunts play charades with her. Apparently my Aunt Sharon wasn't guessing what Nanny was acting out. She turned to my Aunt Dolly and scoffed , "She's not very good at this." Sheesh! She may be ailing, but she still has some kick and that's how it is in our family.