Thursday, January 13, 2005

Nana passed away on Tuesday. Nana, Joyce, my mother's mother. I haven't written since, because I don't know what to say.

I remember talking to her, my freshman year in high school, about her life in the 1940s. I had a paper to write about the interview, and I was really bad about following up on the interesting stuff. She told me about her wartime job at Alton Box Board Company, the times of rationing, the spirit of cooperation everyone had. I now wish I had listened better, caught everything, taped the interview. I can't ask her any more questions.

When, over a year ago, she was seriously ill and in the hospital, Nana thought for a while that she would die then. When she recovered and came to stay with us for a while, it wasn't like a new lease on life, but she was happy with us. Mom caught her doing the jitterbug to Glenn Miller. It was a reprieve, a chance for family to care for each other. She was able to return to her own apartment for Christmas, as much as we worried about her on her own.

In the later days of the summer, I went by myself over to Alton to take Nana out to lunch. We had sandwiches in a quiet restaurant and talked about Mom's childhood, my college and plans for the future, her friends, and the Church. She was glad for the lunch date, although she had to leave afterwards to console a friend whose husband had just died.

Thanksgiving this year was at our home. Nana reminisced about the crazy old days with Mom and Bridget and Joe, each remembering events differently. I found out that Bridget once conned Mom into switching beds after she (Bridget) had been in trouble, so that when my grandfather came in to punish Bridget, Mom was spanked instead. Decades later, they could laugh together. Nana met Alice when I brought her, and was quite impressed.

Nana stayed home for Christmas with a cold, so we went and visited her a few days later. While Katie and Mom talked and showed our pictures, Dad and I found a replacement for her shorted kitchen light. I kissed Nana on the cheek as we left, told her I loved her and that I hoped to come visit again after the school year.

Last week, when I was talking to Mom and Dad, they told me that she was in the hospital: the cold had become pneumonia. Mom was worried, but Dad said he expected Nana to slowly recover again. She was on morphine, drifting in and out of consciousness.

Tuesday afternoon, there was a message from Dad on my room answering machine. I called back and found out that Nana had died. Mom was there when it happened; Dad was in Phoenix. Afterward, Mom and my aunts and uncles gathered, talked, cried and read Nana's letters to them.

I'm going home tomorrow morning for the visitation and the funeral. Pray, if you're the praying sort, for me and for my family; pray too, if you're the Catholic sort, for the repose of Nana's soul.

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