I have the most important person in my life still with me, my Nanny.
My Nanny (Grandma) is 97 years old and I speak with her on the phone each and every day. She says that our phone call is the highlight of her day but doesn’t realise that it is my highlight too. I have the opportunity to speak to the strongest and most determined woman that I know. Ever since I can remember we always ended our conversations with a race to say “I love you the most, I said it first” I have no idea how this started but all of my memories with Nanny involve this phrase.
My Poppy died 20 years ago and since then she has lived by herself. She has cleaned her house from top to bottom almost every day. She has shoveled her own driveway and raked her own leaves. She has made her own breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everyone that met Nanny was made to feel at home in her house and loved. Still to this day she asks me about how my friends from Elementary and high school are doing and calls them all by name.
I know that when my Poppy passed away, it was really difficult for her to move forward with her life. She was lost without him. Somehow she carried on. It was as though one day she made the conscious decision to be happy. She kept herself busy by talking to different friends and family members each day. I am certain that more than half of her days have been spent on the telephone or in conversation with someone. She complains about the phone calls because it stops her from getting her work done but I know that she secretly loves them.
Nanny has always been my favourite! She took care of me when I was sick and couldn’t go to school. She would let me sleep over on the weekends and make me my favourite breakfasts lunches and dinners. She called me everyday from Grade 7 all the way to Grade 12 to make sure I was awake for school. She continued to call even when I would sleep through her endless calls or worse fall asleep mid-conversation.
She kept all of my deepest darkest secrets throughout university and would often ask if my condom supply needed restocking. I wonder what she would have done if I had said that it did. She has the best sense of humor and she has supported me even when I felt like no one else did.
Over the past few years I have noticed that her happiness sometimes disappears only to return days or even weeks later. Her spark is sometimes masked by dementia. It is so hard to listen to the sadness and the confusion in her voice on those foggy days. It is getting difficult for her to remember to make all three meals and she finds it difficult to keep the house clean. Her strength and determination isn’t allowing her to admit that she might need a bit of help at home and is offended if you offer to help. I know it is going to get increasingly difficult for her and the people around her. For now, I think that best thing I can do is cherish those conversations and visits when the mask is removed and her happiness shines through.