Saturday, August 11, 2012



Nana, my maternal grandmother, and my youngest sister, Kim, stood in the kitchen at my parents' house.  Both were there to assist with care for my mother, in the last stages of terminal breast cancer.  Although quite ill, my mother still had very strong opinions about her treatment, the running of the house, and life in general.  

Nana vented, "Your mother is so stubborn!"  Kim replied, "Gee, I wonder where she gets that from?"  Not noticing the sarcasm in her voice, Nana responded, "Yes, that Papa sure was stubborn!"  

Nana and Papa with baby Kim, at her baptism

Adelaide, known as Adele or Dell, was stubborn, strong, independent, and other adjectives you might associate with a depression era, Wisconsin farm-raised woman of German heritage.  She was also one of the warmest, giving people you could encounter.  At Nana's wake, my stepmother shared how kind Nana had been to her, always making her included in the family.  

L to R - Adele, oldest sister Helen,
their mother, youngest sister Jeanne

Of the four grandparents, I knew her the best.  Partially out of longevity and circumstance, she lived into her eighties with her faculties intact.  My paternal grandmother, unfortunately, had dementia the last of her years, and the grandfathers passed when I was in my teens.  She also remained physically independent until almost the end, later assisted by my uncle and aunt.  She was at the weddings, birthdays, baptisms.  

Papa and Nana making their
entrance at my parent's wedding reception
(Grandpa and Grandma following)

I think some of it also involves the closeness of the mother-daughter relationship.  The two were good friends, and talked often.  There is just something about the ease and depth of that bond, and it think it somehow carried over.   

Perhaps most significantly, was that Nana did outlive my mother.  When she was alive, my mother was the hub of the family, and communication often when through her.  After her passing, I had to forge my own direct relationship with my grandmother.

Nana and me 

Nana's birthday was a few days ago.  She's been gone a couple of years now, but I still think of her a lot on this day.  Somehow with her passing I felt I lost another little piece of my mother.  She lived a long, full life.  The last time I saw her, I could see she was ready.  She had outlived her husband, daughter, four of her five siblings.  Her legacy includes six grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren, most of whom she met, I think all but the youngest two.

Nana playing with great-granddaughter, Sidney

Nana wasn't much of a drinker, but on a warm summer day like today, if you were having a beer, she'd ask you to pour her a little glass.  Here's to you, Nana.  Love you!