My Nana passed away on April 29,2012 She was 89 years old. I wrote this for her and read it at her service yesterday. I wanted to share it with you.
Nana was brilliant. She did so many things to help others. One of her amazing gifts was teaching. She could teach in a way that kids and adults could understand. She taught me. Which is saying something. For those of you who don’t know me very well. I have a tendency to be a bit impatient, along with being very distractible. Especially when it came to subjects, such as math. I hated math with a passion! My Nana, loved math as much as I hated it. But, bless her. She took it upon herself to tutor me in math. Nana said “math is like a puzzle, you just need to learn, how to fit the pieces together.” One summer, when I was probably in Jr. High. She would come to my house and work with me, in math and in history. I remember, she made a map of the different countries and put them on poster board. Then she got stickers (she loved stickers) that were of kids dressed in clothing that represented the country they came from. After we would study about a country we would put the corresponding sticker on the corresponding country. I always enjoyed this part of the lesson. It was when we came to the math part, that I would start swinging my feet or want to go and get 18 cups of water. But, Nana would rein me in. She had that “School teacher look” usually that left me shaking in my socks. When that look came out I knew that my trips to the kitchen were over and that we needed to get down to business. Nana was patient with me, and Nana was kind to me, when I didn’t understand. While I may not have understood it then, I understand it now. She wanted me to succeed. It didn’t matter if I never loved math the way she did. She wanted me to know that I was smart and with her help I could accomplish anything.
Nana, not only had a passion for teaching math but she also had a passion for teaching music as well. When I was in my mid 20’s I wanted to take up playing the piano, again. So, I asked Nana if she would be up for teaching me. I would drive to Nana’s house once a week. I would sit at her piano and she would go over all the scales and the pieces she wanted me to work on. My favorite part of our lesson was when we would play a duet. Nana loved to play duets. I think that was also her favorite part of our lesson. I loved to watch her play. She had such a light touch on the keys that I totally understood the phrase tickle the ivories. Her passion and excitement for music was contagious. After my lessons, I was often inspired to play like Nana did. On more than one occasion I attended her mu fi meetings. The one that I remember the most was when Nana and Shirley Humfeld would play a fun and light hearted duet. I was in awe of how the two of them could play on one piano and not bump into each other. Nana made it look so easy. For me she portrayed a side of her talent of classical music that was whimsical and vivacious.
As kids Nana used to drive us all over the place. From grocery shopping to taking us to piano lessons. She would drive us down town for lunch, then back to her house for sleep overs. When we were with Nana we were always well fed. Nana was a marvelous cook. However Nana often made things in small quantities. For example her choc chip cookies, (a personal favorite) were about the size of a silver dollar. So you usually had to eat twice as many to equal an actual size cookie. Nana also had “Little” things in her house. Like the worlds smallest ketchup bottle, or teeny tiny Tupperware containers. When Nana would come to our house for dinner she always brought Pepridge farms dinner rolls. These were rather tiny rolls. Nana seemed to be drawn to all things tiny in size. Which for us, was exceptionally handy, since we all were tiny in stature. My sisters and I started referring to things as being “nana size” We used to tease Nana about her “Nana rolls” and her “Nana size” ice cream sandwhiches. She never seemed to take offense, She would just laugh along with us.
Nana loved to send post cards. It was always so fun to get my own piece of mail. Often times it was hard to read her wirtitng because it too was “nana size” yet, I was still very happy to have reicieved her post card. She continued to send them to me in all stages of my life not just when I was living at home. She sent me some while I was in college and eventually when I got married. When I started having children, I remember she sent me a card in the mail telling me how excited she was to meet the new baby. ( I still have it)
Life changes but to me Nana always seemed timeless. Nana encouraged me always. She marveled in my children and often told me how smart she knew they were. She loved talking to Aryanna. (My oldest). I think she was drawn to her because she was very “Nana size.” I enjoyed being with her. Whether it be lunch at Applebee’s or polishing her nails. When tragedy struck in Novemebr of 2009. I can remember my Nana calling just to say Hi. She again helped me in ways that I will never forget, and I am grateful.
To me, It doesn’t seem real. I know that my Nana, did live a long and fruitful life. She may not have been recognized enough for all the good that she did. She may not have changed the world, but she changed my world. She changed the world for all of those who couldn’t read or write. For all of those little lives that she touched when teaching music to elementary school kids. She inspired me, she encouraged me, and she loved me the way only a Nana can. Thank you Nana for all that you did for me. For all the unseen things you did, and for supporting me always. I love you and feel truly blessed and grateful to have been a part of your amazing life. We celebrate you.