• Kari

And A Hug Around Your Neck

Some moments shine brighter in my mind than others. As a dreamer, I often scroll through the library of memories and replay my favorites over and over. A smell, a sound, or a phrase will always surprise me with what starts to play in my mind. 

My daughter followed me out to my car a few days ago. I'm loving this stage where Mommy is everything and I cannot even run to the car without her wanting to come too. With Emmie being my youngest, I know this won't last very long and I am soaking it up. After retrieving the item from my car, we headed back inside hand in hand. 

"Look Mama! It's Nana!" I followed Emmie's pointed finger to the grass in front of us where a beautiful yellow butterfly sat staring back, trusting and radiant. My heart fluttered along with it's wings. Butterflies were my Nana's favorite, and Emmie must've remembered that. I took a snapshot with my memory polaroid. This moment was too perfect to forget. I know for years to come I will remember the warmth of the sun on my head, the touch of Emmie's hand in mine, the sound of the birds melody, and even my neighbor mowing his lawn sending over the smell of freshly cut grass. 

My Nana passed away in May 3 years ago, and still I reach for my phone to call her with a great story or exciting news. She's still in my phone contacts, and will most likely always be. She was one of the few people in life I held closely, instead of at an introverted arms length. Some people, no matter how different they may be from you, just get you. Just accept you fully as you are with all of your flaws. That was my Nana for me. That was my Nana for so many people. She loved people.

I remember hearing stories from her many different jobs over the years. She loved to tell stories of her time as a pre-school teacher where she would often repeat the one of a boy with anger issues and she would tell him "I can't let you hit that other boy, but I can let you hit this pillow." She would smile and hold up a pillow. This sentence would be repeated to me when asking for advice about my children. It can be applied to so many different things, she would say. She also worked at a women's shelter. I remember going with her a few times and running my hands along the racks of clothing there, available to women in need. I would watch my Nana talking to the women and beam with how lucky I was that she was mine. 

I loved when it was my turn to go spend the night at Nana's house. We would walk down to her pool where she would let me play until I was tired, never forcing me to go in before I was ready. We would watch Shirley Temple movies or, as I got older, watch Columbo and Murder She Wrote. That may be where my love for True Crime started. Nana loved crossword puzzles and over breakfast would even let me try to solve them with her. Since I was young, my phone calls with her have ended the same way. With Nana saying "I love you a bushel and a peck" and me responding with "and a hug around your neck." The Doris Day song plays as the soundtrack to most of my memories with Nana, though I'm sure it was not really there at the time. It's a funny thing, how memories can morph to our feelings. 

Nana's love for God showed through in how she lived her life. In so many of my cards that I have saved over the years from her they are closed with "God loves you, and so do I." I now use this phrase myself with the teen girls small group I teach and with my own children. Is there a more perfect sentiment to tell someone? Small, but mighty. 

She spoke her mind, often. (This may be where I get this from.) You knew where she stood. I can still hear her voice replying "Interesting" as she listened to something she may not have approved of. Processing it before responding. But, She stood by me and up for me in times of my life when I felt I didn't have many. And I am so very thankful that she knew and loved Jesus, because I know I will see her again someday. She was "tickled" when I told her Emmie's middle name would be Jane, the same as hers. I hope everyone is so lucky to have a Nana in their life. Grandmother or not, someone who is so unfailingly in your corner. I strive to be that for people because of what I have seen in her. Carol Jane, you are loved and I'll see you soon.​