Nana is gone, but she's not forgotten

Nana is gone, but she's not forgotten
Nana at Caladesi Island from Thanksgiving Day in the early 1990s, I think. I love this picture because of how genuinely happy she looks.

Five years ago tomorrow, on July 12, 2009, I received the phone call that I knew was coming, but was tough to receive nonetheless. Nana had passed away.

Of course, I knew it was inevitable and would be happening within days, but I really hoped she'd make it to her 93rd birthday six days later (she'd be 98 this year on July 18th) or at least until I arrived for a pre-planned visit a couple of days later. I just really wanted to be able to hold her hand and tell her I loved her one more time.

Although it's five years later, I still miss her. I miss her smile. Her southern drawl. Her quirky ways that came from some horrific life experience that I didn't understand when I was younger. The weekly letters with whatever cash she had in her wallet; sometimes just a couple of singles and sometimes $20, but she always wanted me to have a little cash. The boxes in the winter full of fresh white Florida grapefruit. Her annual birthday cards to Betsey and Ross, whom she loved like they were actual great-grandchildren rather than cats.

As I write this post, thinking about how much I miss her, I realize that even though she's gone, she's actually with me daily. I eat at her dining table. I use many of her pots, pans, and dishes. I have many family pictures from her home. My favorite pieces of furniture were Nana's. Heck, I even wear her vintage hats.

I wore Nana's 1950s or 1960s vintage hat as my 2014 Easter bonnet and it was a huge hit.

I wore Nana's 1950s or 1960s vintage hat as my 2014 Easter bonnet and it was a huge hit.

In preparation for Nana's passing away, I created a blog about her, called Remembering Frances. I continued to write it after her death with letters she'd written, a diary she kept while visiting Europe, and her fruitcake recipe. I wanted one place where I could find everything Nana related and one place where all of our friends and family could share their memories of her. I still go back and read those stories from time to time. I've also written about her in posts on my Original Little Merry Sunshine blog and here at the ChicagoNow Little Merry Sunshine.

I've had a few visits from Nana in the last five years (here, here, and here), and they've been wonderful, but nothing quite compares to what visits with her were actually like.

I sort of feel like she visited me again today. There's a wonderful story in The Washington Post about Tarpon Springs, Florida, the town she worked in for 40 years and lived just down the street from for almost 55 years. The story, In Tarpon Springs, Fla., you can dive into all the flavors of Greece, sent me back to days of walking through the Sponge Docks with Nana, eating baklava, and meeting all of her Greek friends. There were always so many Greek friends all around her, that for the longest time, I thought we were Greek.

This weekend I'll be spending some time with my mom on both Saturday and Sunday. In fact, I have a special surprise outing for us on Sunday that I think mom will really enjoy.

Take a peak through some of my favorite Nana pictures.

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Filed under: Nana

Tags: family, grief, Nana


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    Jessica Gardner

    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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