We recently made our “annual” trip to Northern California to visit family and friends. It was a fun, relaxing time of connection with our loved ones, those who are closest to our hearts but physically far away from our home in San Diego.
On a Wednesday morning, Dennis, the kids, and me met my mom at the nursing home where my Nana has been living the past couple of years. I got to see Nana this past April, shortly after the first surgery to fix her broken hip. She was in pain and disoriented from the medication and anesthesia. But, she was talkative and engaged. My mom and I giggled a couple times, as Nana gave us her version of stories that didn’t seem altogether plausible. (Nana could always make me laugh harder than anyone. She had this dry delivery and often wasn’t trying to be funny, which made her even funnier!)
When we entered her room in July, just 6 days after her 96th birthday, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say we were shocked. She looked so small and frail, much worse than when I saw her in April. Those weeks and months of pain had taken such a toll on her body. My mom gently encouraged Nana to open her eyes and see that we were there to visit. Her face perked up at the mention of Sienna and Mateo, no doubt because my mom often speaks happily about them. We all giggled when Nana looked at Dennis and said, “Well you’re a good looking man.”
We stood around her bed, holding her hands – nearly closed from arthritis – and asking how she was doing. Watching my sweet husband lovingly stroke Nana’s hair away from her forehead was precious and made my heart swell. Sienna and Teo were a bit intimidated. Teo kept gazing at me, with his lower lip sticking out and saying, “It’s so sad.”
After a while, we could see that Nana needed to rest, her eyes kept closing during our visit. My words caught in my mouth as we said “We’ll see you next time we’re here to visit,” knowing quite well it was an empty promise. As I started to take her hand to say goodbye, Nana looked at me with complete recognition in her eyes and said, clearly and somewhat defiantly, “I know you’re Kelsey.” Tears slipped down my cheeks and I could hear my mom start to cry too. It was the most perfect, precious moment and I’ll always cherish it.
Nana died in the early hours of the morning today. She was surrounded by her children, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and one of her several great-grandchildren as her final hours passed. Nana was 96 years old. She was immensely blessed with family to love and that loved her deeply in return. What a beautiful end to a beautiful life.