Friday, May 6, 2016

To Nannah, on Her Birthday: What I Remember and What I Learned

Dear Nannah,

Happy first birthday in heaven. I didn’t anticipate that you wouldn’t be spending this one with us, though I expect that heaven throws better parties that we ever could. I wanted to take a few minutes to write you this birthday and express how grateful I am for your life and your impact on mine. I only regret I never took the opportunity to do this while you were here.

I struggle to find the right words to express the depths of my love and appreciation for your life. And in some ways, it would be easier emotionally to stay busy today and now allow my heart to linger. The memories, precious, cherished, yet hard to revisit since you are no longer here to share them with. The lessons you taught me over the 31 years that I knew you were invaluable in shaping who I am today. You truly were a woman who left a legacy!

What I remember and cherish . . .
  • -          Yearly tree trimming parties at your house, antique ornaments, shortbread cookies, and how you showed such grace when I broke one of your glass bells.
  • -          Yearly trips to the mall to buy Easter shoes to go with our Easter dresses – and they had to be white! J
  • -          How you cooked big dinners on Sunday afternoons because you relished the time with family.
  • -          Dancing silly to Richard Simmons or Jazzercise in your living room while you kept up until you got tired then sat down on the couch to watch.
  • -         How you taught me to tenderly care for African Violets – your favorite flowers.

  • -          Dressing up as a ballerina and dancing shows for you where you always praised and applauded.
  • -          My four-year-old Disney vacation with you, Mickey mouse ice cream all over my face, a giant lightbulb on the ship, and how we woke up before dawn to take pictures of the sunrise.
  • -          Tiddlywinks tournaments
  • -          How you dreamed of what your yard and your creek could be a place of rest, and your random chair set down the steep hill by the brook. I’m sorry you never saw that dream realized!
  • -          Bedtime snacks and Brother Rabbit stories!
  • -          Jergens lotion on our hands and bactine for bug bites.
  • -          Your presence at our milestones – how you never missed a piano recital, gymnastics meet, or Awana awards.
  • -          Walking at the mall with your friends.
  • -          Awana games and the night you broke your wrist jumping over a ball in dodge ball.
  • -          The Fox Theater for Little Women and several times to see the Nutcracker.
  • -          Yearly Christmas ornaments.
  • -          Your “catnaps” during movies.
  • -          Another Disney trip where it rained all day, you bought Rachel and I yellow ponchos and rubbed our cold, wet feet warm once we got back to the hotel.
  • -          Weathering the storm at St. George’s Island.
  • -          How you braved our sled track that first winter in Michigan.
  • -          Stories of Walter Sr. and how you cried when I found “your song.”
  • -          Thanksgivings in Kentucky at the hotel and annual “surprise parties” that we always knew were coming.
  • -          How you never forgot a birthday or anniversary – you loved celebrating people!
  • -          Coca-Cola cake.
  • -          How you surprised me by flying up for my college graduation.
  • -          How you fell in love with Jared from the start.
  • -          Your beauty and serenity on my wedding day.
  • -          How you proudly carried your brag book of your grandchildren.
  • -          How you patiently explained to two-year-old Eli how your watch worked when he asked.

  • -      How you made Kaleb giggle.
  • -          The rapid, deep connection you made with Gabriel on our last trip to see you.
  • -          Your faithfulness in praying for me.
  • -          How you always cried when we left, but tried to cover it up.
  • -          How Gabriel walked you back to your car, and somehow I knew that was the last time we would see you.

Your life has ingrained principles into mine. You taught me . . .
  • -          Love covers a multitude of sins. When you were offended, you never took it personally, and you let things go very quickly. You knew that God loved you, and you offered that same love and grace to both your family and your friends.
  • -          The art of distraction. When my kids would squabble, you would quickly separate them and move on to something new. Changing the subject was an art form. J
  • -          A gentle answer turns away wrath. I hold no memories of you ever raising your voice. Your tone was one of gentleness and peace.
  • -          Prayer is powerful and changes things. You prayed Ephesians 3:14-18 for your children and grandchildren daily. You told me. And I never doubted it as I saw the fruit of this prayer bud and flourish in my and my siblings lives.
  • -          Giving is better than receiving. You servants heart and love for giving were evident from when you would argue over who was covering the dinner bill or serving by washing dishes or prepping food because you couldn’t stand not to be involved. Thank you for setting the example of servanthood!
Nannah, I would give anything to hug you one more time. I am beyond grateful that God blessed me with a woman as wonderful as you for my grandmother. And well, I guess since I couldn’t say “grandmother” as a toddler “Nannah” had to do. And I have to say, it fit you well.
Thank you for loving so well. Thank you for living so well. Thank you for being all of the woman God called you to be. I pray that I too may leave a legacy for generations to come.


Hannah Elizabeth