DIAMATO COOPER: We All Need a Nana in Our Lives
Everyone dreads that late-night call that can only be the herald of bad news. My recent call came at 10:25 on the night of my birthday.
I thought my father-in-law was calling with birthday wishes. Instead, he apologized for giving me bad news on such a day: My beloved Nana had succumbed to cancer. Although she and I talked regularly, I couldn't help thinking, "I wish I had spoken to her one last time."
Nana was the kind of grandmother I had longed for since childhood and never had. She wasn't mine by genealogy. I got her by way of marriage. I remember the day that she called, as matriarch of the family, and welcomed me into her tightly knit clan. For 15 years, she couldn't have loved me more had I been her natural grandchild.
She always listened objectively to any conversation, responding with words of wisdom laced with the Bible scriptures by which she lived her life. She never changed. If I had been remiss in communication, she forgave me, her slender arms seeming to hug me through the phone. She encouraged me to keep pursuing my writing, even when rejection letters filled my inbox.
Nana loved to bake cakes. No holiday was complete without her cheesecake, poundcake or her amazingly moist fruitcake. I'm glad she shared the recipes with me early in our relationship.
We all need a "Nana" in our lives. We all need that one person who speaks to us in truth, even when it hurts -- that person who is always cheering us on.
Nana loved unconditionally, whether those being loved were right or wrong, without condoning the action and never in condemnation. In all the years that I knew her, I never once heard anyone call her by her given name, Carrie. She was always Nana. So cherished was she in my heart that we named one of our daughters after her.
Death will acquaint itself with all of us, no matter how much we hope otherwise. That's why it is paramount that we live each day as fully as possible. I am grateful for the many years that I had with Nana, although it still feels that I didn't know her well enough. There are still more stories that I would have loved to hear about her travels to Europe, her incredible life as a Nanny or her devotion to God.
Although she is gone, I hear her warm, strong voice -- which was a little breathless at times because of a bout with pneumonia -- telling me that all things work together for good for those who love God. And she was right.
I know in my heart that she is in far better circumstances than she was here. No more medications to help her endure the cancer that was ravaging her from the inside. No more oxygen just to walk from room to room or doctor visits filled with poking and prodding.
I'm grateful that Nana is no longer in pain, but I still miss her and I always will. I am grateful for the life lessons that I was privileged to learn from her and to witness in her life. She was always the same, no matter what came her way. I could always depend on her to listen, no matter what I had to say.
The best way to honor her memory is not with a physical object (although I was blessed to receive a beautifully worn leather-bound Bible). No, the best way to honor her and any other departed loved ones is to exemplify a characteristic that made them special to us.
Nana was an encourager. Therefore, that is the characteristic I will strive to improve upon in my own life. Thus the lessons she taught will comfort those who loved her -- and hopefully enrich the lives of others.
Dimato Cooper, of Cameron, is a wife, mother and entrepreneur student at Sandhills Community College. Contact her at email@example.com.
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