grandparents aren’t supposed to die

My Nana died tonight. I didn’t cry. I have, and I will. But I didn’t when I heard the news. Some things take a while to settle in.


Grandparents are the best!

It occurred to me recently that, in the span of six months, I have gone from having three living grandparents to, now, only one. It is something that was never supposed to happen, really. Grandparents aren’t supposed to die. They’re the ones who tickle you and tell you stories and sneak you treats when Mom and Dad aren’t looking. They’re the ones with gray hair and wrinkles and sparkly eyes and easy smiles. They’re the ones who age but don’t get old, who tire but are never too tired for you.

They are, and always have been, for eternity.

Until tonight.

My Nana and all of her “yakety-saxes” (she was always trying to get me to play Boots Randolph on my saxophone) and “Will you beeee, my teddy bear?” (she loved Elvis and Derek was her “Der-Bear”) fell asleep in a hospital room in Ohio–only this time, she won’t wake up. This time, she’ll never ask for bread for breakfast again. (Despite being diabetic, Nana was a true Midwesterner and believed that bread was an integral part of every meal.)

This time, I’ll never hear her sweet voice again, or her laugh; I’ll never cringe at her outrageous jokes; I’ll never listen to her, Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo!

And I will miss her terribly.

I already do.

I talked to her on the phone two days ago. The conversation was a stark contrast to jovial dialogues of days gone by. This time, there were long pauses between thoughts: She was tired; she was giving up.

But I’ll never forget one of the last things I said to her, or her response.

I told her, “I love you, Nana.”

And she said, “I know, sweetheart.”

Note: We will be holding a memorial service for my Nana in Ohio at the beginning of June. I may write another tribute at that time. For now, I plan to return to previously pondered topics. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

Image: Google

87 thoughts

  1. My deepest sympathies and condolences Jessica, for you and your family. I know you and the family have great fond memories of her impact in everyone’s life. Peace for you and all.

    • Thank you, Professor. Means a lot. We’ll get through it. I miss her, but, as my brother said, death is part of life. She will never be forgotten.

  2. When I was a kid, my Grandma and I made a pact: we both had tempers, and tended to lose them, so we decided we would be each other’s accountability buddies. It’s been probably 30 years since we made our pact, but I still think of it every time I start to get angry. And I miss her terribly. And I understand.

    I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but today you and yours are in my thoughts…

    • Aww… I love that story. I tend to have a temper like my grandpa, actually. I didn’t know him very well—he passed away last December—but I’ve often thought of stories I’ve heard about him when I can feel my temperature rising, lol.

      I’m sorry for the loss of your grandma. I guess it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Right?

      Thank you for your thoughts and kind comment!

    • Thank you, Subh. I’m thinking now of your own posts on grandparents, and how you really never got to know yours. I can’t say my Nana and I were crazy close (it’s hard when you live on opposite sides of the country from one another), but we sure did have a good time when we were together!

    • Thank you, Mark. :) I’m okay. Melancholy, perhaps, but, as my brother said in my last post, death is part of life… I am grateful that, at least, my Nana had 84 good years on this earth before going on her way…

  3. Sorry Jess – I know how ya feel – Now the best way I dealt with it was write as my memories while they are still poignant – ones that make you smile – and then your grandparents live on though you….

    • That’s a good idea. I *should* write more about how crazy she was (and sometimes downright embarrassing!) because these are the things that make me laugh. And then maybe I could make you laugh, too! She will never be forgotten.

    • Thank you so much, Stephanie. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I tried to make it meaningful to all—not just those who knew my grandmother personally. Sometimes there is beauty in pain…

  4. Sorry for your loss Jessica. May your many memories of your Nana keep you company through this sad time. I know she will be missed by you and your family. Take care and have a blessed day.

    • Thank you, Frank! Your kind words mean so much. I can already smile at the good memories I have of my Nana, so I believe you are right. Those memories will get me through.

      Best regards!

    • You are very right, Sophia! This too shall pass… Until it is my turn! And then I too will pass… And then? Who knows!

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. :)

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss Jessica. I lost my Grandmother ten years ago and I still miss her. The good thing is that she still lives on with my family. She is referenced frequently when we play cards (she loved a good game of cards) or sometimes a line she would use will pop up in conversation (“I can still kick pretty high” is a popular one).

    • Hi, Dan. Your story about the way your family remembers your grandma is awesome. I’m pretty sure that, as time goes on, my family will develop more and more of those “lines” re: my Nana, too. I will never forget the sayings I mentioned in the post about the “yakety sax” and “Teddy Bear” song… She was a riot!

      I’ll bet I would have loved to have met your grandmother, too. :)

      Thank you so much for your kindness!

  6. Sorry for your loss. I try to look at it from Dr. Seuss’ perspective, don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened. My grandmother went before her time, but still had a reasonable innings, especially compared to some of my parent’s grandparents. The two grandparents I have who are likely on borrowed time have both managed to make it past 80, which I think is something to find solace in. It’s very likely that all will have longer lives than my mother, who herself will enjoy a longer life than she would have, had the doctors not found out what was wrong with her and found the right medication. There’s blessings in all of that; they have brought joy and should be remembered with a smile. Each moment granted is a moment that was denied to less fortunate families.

    • That is a very good point. I *am* glad for the years that my Nana had and that she lived. Had she not, well, I wouldn’t be here, for one, and, not only that, the world would have been a much more boring place! I’m glad to hear that your living grandparents are in their 80s and that your mother is doing well! It is amazing what modern medicine can do… Now, if only scientists could figure out a way to cure cancer—for good!

      Thanks so much for your comment. :)

    • Thank you, Walter. You are too kind. I know God is here. During her last few months, my Nana, who has always been nonreligious, began asking me more and more about God. How could she find Him? What did He look like? I laughed and told her I only wish I knew!… But those memories bring comfort to me now.

      Thanks again. :)

  7. i am happy she passed away peacefully, but more than that, she can be with g-pa joe now. like you wrote about in g-pa joe’s story, nana is gonna be happy with him again.

  8. It’s surreal to lose someone you love. It doesn’t seem possible. I know this is a sad time for you. You will be in my mind Jessica. I’m thinking especially of your Mom right now.

    • Thank you, Terri—so much. Surreal is a good word for it. How can someone so alive in your mind be… dead? Your thoughts for my mom are also appreciated. She faces a lot as she now has to go back to Ohio and, essentially, get rid of my grandparents’ tow yard and estate. It’s a huge challenge.

    • Aww, I’m glad it touched you—that’s what I was going for. ;) (Not trying to make you sad, but trying to find the universal appeal… We’ve all lost someone at some point!) Yes, she will be missed. Thank you so much for your sweet comment!

  9. O’m really a crybaby. I also read a post just after reading yours… about the father ( the blogger ) who had just been told by his youngest son that he was gay… and he asked for acceptance and love … the father was so accepting… and the post was so touching and again I teared up. Couldn’t help it. +_+ ” I always feel someone’s sorrow and pain… and love . I ‘m not sure if it’s boon or bane. Sometimes I need to step back just a bit.

    • Lol, you’re funny. I think it’s good to be “in touch” that way. People who can’t feel what others are going through are… well, they’re a lot of things, but, mostly, I think it’s bad. Emotions are what make us human. To be able to sympathize and empathize with others is a very important and endearing trait!

  10. I’m sorry, Jessica.

    I got the phone call about my Papa just last summer. He was just the greatest there ever was. Just like yours, no doubt.
    Very tough; I’ve wanted to write about him; have been asked by everyone in my family to do so; I just never have.
    The last thing that he said to me was that I never went to see him.

    • Sorry to hear about your Papa, Nate! It’s hard to lose loved ones. I can understand hesitating to write about him… It has to come from you and feel like the right time. Can’t be forced.

      Did you mean to say that the last thing he said to you was “I never *want* to see you again”? (Which I *hope* is not right…) I’m a little confused. :P

      • Ah. I understand the confusion. Read what I said a little differently.
        He did say that I never went to see him, meaning that I seldom drove down to visit.
        Quote, “You never come to see me.”

        Make better sense?

      • Yes! My bad. I must be tired, lol. I could understand a grandparent saying that. I hardly talked to my Nana while I was in Asia and feel somewhat badly about that now. But she always knew I loved her, and I knew she loved me, so, in the end, it’s all right. ;)

        Thanks for clarifying! (Silly me.)

  11. Jessica, I’m so sorry about your Nana. She sounded like a wonderful woman. This post was so moving and poignant. I still remember being able to say good bye to my grandma. Thanks for sharing. Steph

    • Aww, and thank *you* for commenting, Steph! I’m glad you were able to say goodbye to your grandma. I felt bad that my Nana died in a hospital room without any family around, but she was so sedated at the very end that I’m not sure that our being there would have made a big difference. I’m glad that I at least got to say goodbye to her on the phone!

      I’m so glad you were touched. :) Thanks again.

    • Thank you so much. I know they will. It is hard to lose a loved one, but there are things like memories to be grateful for, too!

      I hope you have a wonderful day. :)

  12. no need to add my condolences, I’m sure you know this already. instead just to tell you: get strength; it only gets worse as you get older. i have finally realised that this is why, in the end, you need kids.

    • Hmm… I’ve thought about the same thing myself; wondered if I *really* want kids. Ultimately, my answer is “yes.” Just not yet… Thank you for your kind words. Means so much.

  13. Unfortunately, everybody is meant to die…grandparents included… i know you don’t watch movies but there is this line in The Matrix. It says “everything that has a beginning has an end”. It sounds a cliché but if you mini-meditate on it for a few minutes you will see how powerful and liberating it is.
    You are very lucky u had the chance to express your feelings to your granny in the last days!
    With kind regards and condolences.

    • Thank you so much. You are right. We all have a beginning and an end. I think we all just prefer the beginning. ;)

      I *am* lucky to have been able to say goodbye and tell her I loved her before she passed away. There could be worse situations in life.

      Thanks again.

  14. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matt 5:4

    1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

    2 A time to give birth and a time to die;
    A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

    3 A time to kill and a time to heal;
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.

    4 A time to weep and a time to laugh;
    A time to mourn and a time to dance. Eccl 3:1-4

    Find the right time – don’t leave it until it is too late however. We know not what the time is, nor when our time is up.

    So Sorry for your sad loss.

  15. May god give you and your family the strength to carry on Jassica, its is just too painful to lose someone in the family, more so when they have deep emotional bonding with us. We have lost five people from our extended family in the last 6 months, its been really tough to deal with all these loses one after the another. Death is the only certainty, in the race of living our life, at times we forget this ultimate truth. All that is living must stop doing so one day, the pain of loss is all that remain there forever. Our prayers are with your and your Nana…

    • Ohhh… Thank you so much for your condolences. I should be extending mine to you, too! Five people in six months? That’s terrible. I’m so sorry! Yes, you are right. In this crazy world, death is the only certainty. I like to believe that there is something after life—something better—to look forward to. But I can only hope. Thanks again.

    • Thank you! Yes, she was pretty fabulous, and I do have good memories. I am lucky to have had her in my life. Thank you so much for your kind comment!

  16. I miss my grandad. But he did what he wanted, he did it on his own terms and he was pretty good at it (sugar cane farming). He was solid as an oak tree stump until he retired at 82. He died at 84. When I was a kid I always had the feeling he thought I was a bit useless, though he never said anything unkind. One summer day when I was 12 he was out in the fields while I repaired the wiring harnesses on three tractors. At the time I didn’t know this was half a million dollars worth of equipment, just that it was broken and I knew how to fix it. After that there was a subtle change in his regard for me. And the adults stopped trying to keep me out of the machinery shed. To this day I love the smell of a diesel on packed earth, and it carries memories of him.

    • This relatively short comment was a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. A story in itself. Lovely and poignant. I can smell diesel on packed earth myself. I can see a novel, or biography, or both. Have you written elsewhere about him?

      Thank you so much for sharing. Please forgive my delayed response.

  17. Thank you for this tribute to your grandmother. If you don’t mind, i also see it as a tribute to mine. My grandmother died two decades ago, but she was the only one I ever knew, and reading about the love you have for your Nana brings back such beautiful memories, but still has made me a little blue. I am sorry for your loss. I grieve with you.

    • I don’t mind at all! Thank you for reading and thinking of your grandmother! I’m so sorry for your loss but glad you have good memories of her, all these years later… Their memory lives on through us, you know. ;)

  18. Oh Jessica. I am so sorry for your loss. I always felt that grandparents weren’t supposed to die, too…even though I knew “intellectually,” it never sank in otherwise. I’m so glad your grandma knew how much you loved her. :) I will be thinking of you!

    • Thank you so much, Ally! Yes, it’s still thinking in that she’s gone. The memorial service was last weekend and even then it didn’t seem real. But, yeah. When you’re a kid, it seems like you’re going to be a kid forever. Death is hard to grasp. It’s only as you get older… I’m glad she knew I loved her, too. Your sweetness is much appreciated. :)

  19. Jessi, nice article. I loved it. Just like you, I also miss my grandparents a lot. They helped me a lot in their own field. My grandfather was always lovely to me. He used to believe in me more than my other brothers. He always used to ask me to help him. I can remember the moment when I helped him take his medicine before he died. I cried a lot.

    Family is always important. Never ignore them, even if you do not like them ;) One day you will realize that they were important for you. I am telling you because I have realized these feelings myself. ;) Take care.

    • Ohhh, what a touching story about your grandfather. I would have liked to have met him. You’re right: Family is important. I cherish mine and love and miss them, no matter where I am in the world. Thank you for reading, Chuda!

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