My life is better because I had my Nana in it.
Tuesday I lost her. But, to be honest, these last years of her life have been hard. Health problems, family issues, and a type of dementia/Alzheimer’s left her with a more difficult than normal end of life. She didn’t deserve that, but my Nana always was a go-getter and a fighter, and in her 78 years of life she truly lived, and boy did she love.
She loved like the best of them.
As a child I adored all of my grandparents. My Nana though, just had this way about her. As I got older I always wondered why she didn’t work with children more often. She would have been the best, BEST pre-school teacher, kindergarten teacher, heck- even middle or high school teacher because she could give “it” right back to them. She had a 6th sense when it came to kids. Adults too. But kids, she could make them feel like they were the only person in the world and they were the absolute, hands-down most special person ever alive.
That’s how she made me feel.
My Nana’s name is Lottie. She was born during the depression and grew up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania where she met my grandfather, and at a young age got pregnant and had my dad. Grandpa and Nana got married and lived with my Great-Grandparents, Grandma Evelyn and Pap. In the years they lived in Uniontown they had dozens of family within walking distance, which was good since my grandpa was in college working on his degree. I can’t imagine being 18 and having a newborn to raise, a new husband who was only able to be home on the weekends, and living in a new home with his family. I can imagine things weren’t “perfect”, but my Nana found a way to make it work.
From my understanding she worked in those early years as an assistant in a dental office. My dad has many fond memories of my Nana’s nurturing nature as well as his relationship with Pap- his grandpa. Although my dad was little, he has many lingering memories of feeling very loved and cared for by all of those around him. Something every child deserves.
Soon after my grandpa got his undergraduate degree, they moved as a little family of three to Pittsburgh where grandpa worked on his graduate degrees and Nana had a few more children. Uncle Tim was born and same with my Aunt Terry. (I believe Uncle Keith was later- but not I’m not sure…) Nana then stayed home with her kids and took care of her wonderful family. She was an incredibly beautiful woman (and still was to her dying day) and as my dad said on the phone today, “Everyone who knew her, loved her.”
And you know what was really cool about that? In turn, I am sure that she truly loved everyone she knew.
She was just so full of love.
They lived in Pittsburgh, then I believe Buffalo, and then by the time my mom and dad were together they moved to Houston, Texas where she stayed for the rest of her life. Nana spent her time raising her kids and then working for the Houston Astros in sales. I loved when she worked there! I have very fond memories of going to games and enjoying box seats since that was the part of sales that she worked in. She was a Houston Astros fan till the end. From what I remember she loved her time there. Finally Nana retired from working her last job for the county. Nana was a very social person, and interacting with people was her thing.
She really was a talker. If any of you reading this know my dad, then you know that when he gets going during a speech… well, stopping may take awhile. This came from Nana. I have a little bit of that gene too… which is why I sometimes think that I love teaching. I mean I have an audience 6 hours of the day who have NO choice but to listen to what I say?! Thanks Nana, those talking genes (and as well as the love of kids genes) is part of what made me the person and teacher that I am today.
Nana had some curve balls thrown at her in her later life. A divorce with my grandpa when she was around 55, a horrible accident not too much later than that, and in the past years some dementia and/or Alzheimer’s which was more or less undiagnosed until recently. Although during those years she may have been struggling, she was still loving. Telling her family not to be mad about the situations, and not to worry, and to just KEEP LOVING. She had a gentle heart and a gentle soul, but I can’t downplay her spirit. She swore with the best of them and wouldn’t take any sh..t. Although in these past years her family had been fighting with her about moving into a home so she could be better looked after- she fought… and won… to keep her freedom and independence. Now although that may not have been “best” for her, it was what she wanted, and she was strong enough to make that happen.
There is so much that I gained from having her love me, and me loving her back. She not only gave life to my amazing father, but taught him how to make my favorite smashed eggs, gave me “tickelies” on my back, and even took me on a cruise. She had a smile as big as her face and it always came straight from her heart. It, and her, will be so missed.
I feel so blessed to have been a part of her life. Nana, I love you, and I thank you for being you.