23 April 2011

“Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love. It can't take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.” - Anonymous

When I was young (kindergarten and first grade aged), I always took a special delight in having more than the usual number of grandparents. 'I have 3 grandmothers', I remember telling my astounded classmates in first grade. No one else in Mrs. Dolphin's class had three grandmothers and so, for that day, I was the cool kid in class. (That was when my popularity in life peaked, I'm afraid.) I had my Grandma, my father's mother. My Granny Becky, my Mum's mother and the woman whom I am named for. And then there was my Nana, who was married to my maternal grandfather, Granddad. Of course, when I was younger, I wasn't entirely sure how this situation had come about, nor did I particularly care. I simply accepted it.

It was only when I was a bit older that I learned of the word 'divorce' and that my Nana wasn't actually biologically related to me. This was terribly confusing at first because I simply could not understand how she could love me so much if I wasn't related to her. But then I realized that it didn't matter whether or not Nana was actually related to me by blood because never once did I doubt that she loved me as much as my other grandparents. She treated me as if I were her own grandchild and her love was absolute.

My Granddad and Nana were the grandparents who were the most present in my childhood and adolescence. They have lived in Olney since before I was born and visits to their house were routine when I was younger. Granddad would serve my brother and I Diet Coke or Barq's Red Cream soda at his bar in the basement, a tradition which never ceased to be carried out. Nana would teach me how to play 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' or 'Row Your Boat' on her piano, and taught me how to create texture in my coloring attempts. In the evenings, we would install raw corn on the cob in the squirrel feeders in the backyard and then go driving around rural Montgomery County (what little is left of it) searching for deer. Lady, their poodle, and, later, Snuggles, would join us on these adventures, which were almost always successful. (Indeed, I can remember only a few times when we failed to spot deer.) This was a highlight of my childhood since I had always loved deer and living in suburban Howard County was not entirely conducive to spotting them on a regular basis. On the weekends when John and I would spend the night at Granddad and Nana's, we could always count on a Saturday yard sale-hunting adventure. (Yard sales were also rare in Howard County at that time.)

It is my Granddad and Nana who have been there for most of my life achievements. My Granny Becky lives in Virginia Beach, making it difficult for her to travel far, and my Grandma seems to have a busy schedule that precludes other activities. When I read my first story at the Author's Tea in kindergarten, Nana and Granddad were there. They attended countless orchestra recitals which is probably grounds for sainthood in and of itself since elementary and middle schoolers are hardly virtuousos at the violin. When I earned my first degree black belt in Tang Soo Do after a grueling 8-hour physical endurance test, they were present amongst the crowd. And, most notably, in May 2006, they braved 100+ degree heat to attend my high school graduation at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Believe me, I wouldn't have attended that graduation had I not been obligated to. Yet there they were.

In September 2010, my Nana suffered several strokes that have, unfortunately, taken their toll on her physical health. Despite the best care of her doctors and my Granddad, she is now in hospice in Olney.

Throughout my entire life, my Nana and Granddad have been some of my biggest supporters. They are devout readers of this blog and even now, when Nana can't read it herself, Granddad still prints out each entry and reads it to her. And so, Nana, this post is dedicated to you. I wish that I could express how much you mean to me in a more eloquent manner. These words seem weak and inadequate when I see them on the screen, but I don't know how else to express what I want am feeling. You've always been so kind to me and shown that you've loved me. I've never had to doubt it. You've always been there to attend important events in my life, even when it has not been the most convenient of times or situations. And this has meant so much to me. Thank you so much for everything. I love you, Nana.

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