My grandmother, Nanny C, passed away last night. She went to bed for the night and never woke up. The best way to go if you ask me. I’ve been sitting here thinking about her for the past few hours. She was a force of nature that woman. 94 years old and she still lived alone. Home care came in to check on her for an hour or two each day but she still kept the house and took care of herself. Just this past week she was out shovelling snow. At least she stopped climbing up on the roof to knock the icicles off a few years back, when she turned 90. She taught me how to back, how to make any recipe your own, to have fun in the kitchen. She taught me how to play Chinese checkers and would never just let me win. I had to earn my wins. She also taught me how to dance the jig, a traditional Irish/Newfoundland dance. The most important thing she taught me though was that you are never to old to learn and change.
Growing up there were a few things you could be certain of when visiting my Grandmother’s house. There would be a fish of cookies on the table, there would be at least one cup of tea on the go, and there would be a cigarette dangling from her delicate fingers or burning away in the ashtray. She started smoking when she was 16 years old, after she had her first child. She stopped smoking at the age of 74 after losing that eldest child, my Aunt, and her husband, my uncle, to lung cancer within months of each other. She didn’t just stop smoking though. She had her house gutted. She tore up and replaced all the carpets, ripped the paper off the walls and repainted, bought all new furniture, and had the air ducts all cleaned out. Soon there was no sign anyone had ever smoked in that house, even though she had for more than 50 years. I asked her how difficult it was to stop smoking after nearly 60 years. The easiest thing I ever did, she said. If continuing to smoke meant that she endangered the people who came into her home, if it meant she may not get to see her grandkids, she simply had to stop. There were no options.
She was a stubborn old woman, quite ornery at times, but she had the biggest most loving heart. She will be missed. Goodbye Nanny C. I love you. I will always remember you.