Below is a school essay I wrote at the tender age of 14 shortly after the passing of my dear Nana on 28 April 1987. As I re-read my reflections and honor her today, I’m ever more aware that the significance of change and transition has always been poignantly evident to me.
My grandmother, known as Nana to me, practically raised me. My parents were divorced when I was eleven months old and my mother worked long hours. Nana was many people to me: a grandmother, a friend, a mother, and a teacher. She was a very special lady to not only me but many people.
On Tuesday April 28, 1987, Nana died. At first I really didn’t believe it was true. I was at softball practice that day and my dad, whom I lived with at the time, came to practice and told me to ask the coach if I could leave early. I was supposed to ride home with Katie that day so I knew something was up when Daddy came and got me early.
I got into the car and not a word was said. I had a gut feeling about what he was going to say. I started crying as we turned into our driveway. Daddy and I got out of the car and began to walk over to the pavilion (the pavilion was a picnic area- we lived in apartments). He turned and said, “Nana’s dead.” I really couldn’t believe it. I thought to myself, “How could she leave me?” I cried and cried until no more tears would fall. Daddy just held me tight. The wind was very cold and froze my warm tears. Daddy left me to be alone, and I walked aimlessly for hours.
The next day I went to school just to keep myself busy. We left that afternoon for Columbus, Georgia. That night there was a Rosary service and the viewing of the body. As I walked up the aisle, it seemed so far I got a feeling that I could just wake her up. I stood at the edge of the casket and I felt like shaking her. My granddaddy, who was a colonel in the army, cried. I never thought my grandad could cry so hard. I leaned over and kissed Nana on the forehead. I heard my grandad wail. Grasping Nana’s death was hard enough, but having to my grandad’s pain was just a big addition. I wanted to just run away and never come back.
Daddy and I stayed in a hotel that night. The next day was the funeral. I went early in the morning to the church and prayed at Nana’s side. At two o’clock the funeral began there were supposedly a group of people. I say supposedly because I don’t remember seeing anybody. The service seemed to pass by quickly. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to feel Nana’s presence as long as I could. After the service we, the family, got the out goodbyes to Nana. At this time I really didn’t feel it was goodbye; it hadn’t hit me.
We rode to the cemetery right behind Nana. The whole ride I felt like screaming but the car was silent. We got there and the pallbearers took Nana out of the hearse. Some man said a few words and we prayed and then got in the car and went to Nana’s house. As we were leaving, tears were streaming down my face, and I realized that one day it would be granddaddy’s funeral, my dad’s, my mother’s and my aunt Bobbie’s, and everyone that ever would mean anything to me. When we got to Nana’s, there were quite a few people there. I didn’t think anybody should be there because it was Nana’s house. All of these people tried to tell me how I felt, how it would take time, and how sorry they were. I kept hearing the same things over and over. All I wanted was for everyone to leave me alone.
Since Nana’s death granddaddy and I have become close. He seems to be handling her death very well. Before Nana died, I had a very childish outlook on life. In a way, I thought “bad things” only happened to “bad people.” Her death brought to me the realization that death is just a course of life. I now realize that going through different dilemmas throughout your life build character. I miss Nana very much and sometimes cry because she is gone but I stop myself and recall the many memories we once shared.