A Piece of My Grandmothers

While in Tennessee I wrote this post. This was my first time returning to Tennessee since my grandmother’s funeral. As an overly sentimental, nostalgic, and emotional person, it was a little rough for me at times. This was what I wrote after one of those times.

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Yesterday was a rough-ish day.

My emotions tend to be controlled right now by my depression. So if something sad happens, the whole day is fairly sad.

So even though we went on a nice hike, went and saw the dam, had a relaxing afternoon playing frisbee and watching cute old family videos, it was a sad day.

It was the first time I’ve been to Nana’s grave since her funeral four years ago.

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I know you’re not supposed to have favorite grandparents or favorite family members, but Nana was my favorite. I identified with her so much. We were both super emotional, for starters.

Nana was always looking for ways to improve our day. She wanted to add fresh berries to our cereal. She would offer fruit or toast while we were watching a movie, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She’d give you seconds of every meal before you’d even finished what was on your plate.

Nana was going to make sure you were NEVER hungry. EVER.

Nana really loved her grandchildren. She was always asking if there was anything she could do for us. She’d tuck us in every night and give us bubble baths. She insisted we bring a sweater when we went out so we didn’t get cold, even though it was incredibly warm outside.

She was the sweetest, most caring person I’ve ever known.

I hate Alzheimer’s. I hate it. I had to watch my grandmother lose a larger chunk of her personality and memories each year. She slowly but surely became a shell of herself, with a few moments of pure lucidity each day.

Those moments were as precious as they were painful. In those moments she knew what was happening to her, and she felt the need to thank us for everything we were doing for her – especially her husband. She’d tell us how much she loved us. How she knew this was hard for him and she was so grateful for his patience, his kindness, his devotion.

Those moments hurt because every time I was hyper aware that it might be the last time I truly spoke to her. 

The last morning I spent with Nana I knew it might be the last time. I always knew it might be. I was trying to spend every second with her. It was shortly after her birthday, and she wanted me to read her birthday card aloud. Repeatedly. I must’ve read it 20 or more times. But Nana, being true to herself, even in these moments where she couldn’t remember that she’d heard the card before, kept coming up with new, clever responses to our sweet notes. I was trying so hard to hold back tears the entire time.

It’s hard being back in Tennessee without her. The house has barely changed, so I feel her loss everywhere.

After my mom’s mom (Grandma) died, Mom brought back a gorgeous necklace of hers. I asked if I could wear it for my wedding, since it would give me a sense of her presence. At that point only Grandaddy, Nana’s husband, was alive, but I loved including my other set of grandparents in that way, since they couldn’t physically be there. I know it meant a lot to Mom, and she’s let me keep that necklace, which means a lot to me. I just love having a piece of her with me, a piece of something she picked out for herself.

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One of my main missions with this trip was to find a piece of Nana’s jewelry to bring home. I’ve already found a few. We’ve also found so many buttons and clip on earrings, since Nana didn’t have pierced ears but of course wanted to have nice looking jewelry to compliment her outfits. Nana was always put together.

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I first spotted this charm and knew I had to have it. When my future children have my future grandchildren some day, I hope I can be as wonderfully caring and attention as Nana was to me. It’ll mean so much to me to have this charm on a necklace connecting my grandmother to my grandchildren.

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But of all the pieces I grabbed, in a way, this simple pearl necklace means the most. I think partly because it’s simple, and Nana was a lady who liked the simple things in life. I think the main reason though is that both of my grandmothers had gorgeous necklaces that were two different styles but both consisted of pearls. I believe they only met a few times in their lifetimes, usually involving us grandchildren. And yet they each had a pearl necklace that I now have.

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I wear them a lot to all sorts of different places. I wore Nana’s necklace to the Nerd Party at San Diego Comic-Con and to a job interview. I wore Grandma’s to Jason’s coworker’s wedding and to our college friend’s son’s one year old birthday party. Every time I put the necklaces on I think of them. In a way, I get to have my grandmothers with me all the time in spirit.

I love you both so much. I miss you all the time.

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