“There’s Only One Way Out”

Goodbye, Nana

IMG_5466In 2011, my Nana — then 93 years old — survived a bout with e coli. She had, understandably, been weakened by the experience, and needed to move to a nursing home rather than return to her assisted living apartment.

A few weeks after her arrival, she was visited for a psych consult. She told me about it when I called later in the day.

“They said, ‘Ruth, do you think about leaving here?’ And I said to them, ‘Oh, heavens no! There’s only one way out of here and I’m not ready for that yet!'”

Yesterday, Nana decided that she was ready to leave.

She was a lovely, generous person, always much funnier than I ever gave her credit for being. Our conversations were bright spots in my week, sharing stories of The Assistant and hearing interesting stories of her own.

For example, when The Assistant learned how to ride his bike, she seemed unusually proud. I couldn’t understand why until she told me the story of how her mother thought that bicycles were unladylike and un-Christian during her teen years in the 1930s. “So I met my friends in the evening and they taught me to ride their bicycles under the street lights.” She never revealed her cycling skills to her mother, and went so far as to hide her bicycle from my great-grandmother who lived with her until her death when my Nana was in her 60s. I loved these backstories, adding dimension and layers to her history that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.

I’ll miss her so much, but The Assistant and I are so lucky to have had her in our lives for so long.

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