On September 29th, 2006, my Nanie (mom’s mother) passed away due to complications of colon cancer. On that day, I was suppose to go to Disneyland for my bachelorette party, but stayed home because I knew her time with us was coming to an end. Two weeks later I had to pull it together to attend my own bridal shower and one month after that walk down the aisle, one of the biggest moments of my life, without her physically there.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. She was like a second mother to me. I saw her almost every day. I spent more time at her home than I did my own. She taught me how to cook. (my mom is amazing, but the woman can’t cook, unless it’s Hamburger Helper. No wonder I was so skinny growing up.) I just wanted to take this time to share some of my own memories of the woman who meant so much in my life.
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas I would come down to my Nanie’s house early in the morning to help her prep and cook the big meal for that day. She taught me how to make pie crust from scratch. I could never master her technique on getting the flattened dough into the pie pan. She did it so effortlessly. Me on the other hand, the once perfectly flattened pie crust dough ended up as two horribly deformed versions of some kind of dough that was no longer useable. She laughed each time. To this day I still don’t understand how she did this and I don’t think I ever will. And the one time she had me help her “clean out” the turkey has scarred me for life. I can still hear her fantastically contagious laugh as I stood there, hand in the turkey’s butt, attempting to pull out the innards, while trying not to vomit in the process. She was laughing so hard at me that she could barely tell me what to do. I still refuse to stick my hand up any animal carcase.
My dad made it his purpose to say things to my Nanie that weren’t true, just so he could get the reaction out of her. She was so trusting of what others said and not once, no matter how many times my dad did it, did she not believe him (of course until he started laughing then you would hear “Damn it Bob!”)
I have the BEST picture of my Nanie from this trip. It encompasses her perfectly. This woman HATED water. She disliked getting any kind of wet. So of course we took her on the Grizzly Rapids at California Disney Adventure. All of us piled into the circular raft knowing that she was going to hate this ride, but we all played coy telling her “Oh no, you really don’t get that wet.” Even the attendant played along, to which she replied “If you are lying to me, I’ll come after you.” The attendant just laughed and the raft pulled slowly away from the dock. It was nice and calm and I remember her saying “This is nice”. Then, the first waterfall/rapid hit. The raft timed it perfectly, sliding her right under the waterfall. She yelled and began cussing us all out. We laughed the ENTIRE ride. Each waterfall, rapid dip, water spray was planned so flawlessly that she got it EVERY time. I was sitting directly across from her and took pictures of her laughing hysterically and yelling at us at the same time. When we got back to the dock, the same attendant assisted us out of the raft. She went right after him. All in fun of course.
The Last Time
The doctor came in to talk to my mom, I was with my mom for emotional support. He had just attempted to take what he could of the cancer out, but from what we were told, the cancer had spread so incredibly fast that it was now through to her stomach and spreading to her lungs. He was very to the point and said, “I’m sorry, but there isn’t much I can do. It is spreading so fast that she doesn’t have much longer.” I remember I went to the ICU with my mom the next morning to see her. She had the breathing tube still in her throat and I remember her trying to use her hands to speak, asking if they had gotten it all. We were all trying to tell her to calm down and just relax, none of us wanting to tell her the truth. She looked at me, knowing I would let her know something. I just looked at her and smiled, trying to fight back tears. At that moment she knew. She calmed down and laid back in her hospital bed. My mom left the room, not being able to handle it anymore. I stayed back, trying to comfort my Nanie. I remember brushing her hair and holding her hand telling her to get some rest and that everything would be okay. She looked at me and then closed her eyes. The next night, she passed. I’m not sure if at that moment she knew and slipped into a coma, but I was the last person to see those beautiful, loving eyes. It is something that I will never forget. I’m hoping that I was able to give her some kind of peace.
Writing, talking about all of this is just as painful and heartbreaking as the day it happened. I don’t think it ever gets any easier, you just become better at distracting yourself for a moment and moving on.
Nanie, I love you and miss you every single day of my life. I wish more than anything that you could have met Emily. I am thankful that you made that baby blanket for me before you got sick so that my unknown child at that time would have something from you “just in case you weren’t around”. It was the blanket I brought Emily home in and it still has a special spot in her closet in her room. And you can believe, if I ever have another child, they too will be brought home in that blanket.