A final gift

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As those of you who read my blog routinely know, my Nannie, who I have always been close with, has been very ill of late. On Monday, she passed away. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about the end, except to say it was very peaceful and exactly as she wanted. I sit at home, writing this, the day after her funeral.

We have been so lucky to have her in our lives. She was a woman’s woman. She was strong , straight shooting, determined, loving, wise, and fun. She built our family from nothing. She always was an ear to listen and always had advice ready. She ruled over our family like a queen, and she kept us together despite the fact that leading us , as someone recently said, is a lot less like leading and a lot more like herding cats. She was a matriarch in every definition of the word.

In the lead up to her final goodbye, she took time with every one in her family, saying a little thing to each of us. To me, she said two things ‘You’ve done a beautiful job with Moo so far. Keep being a good mother’, and, ‘ I’ve never had to worry about you, Anneke’. That last bit meant so much to me. To have a person I have always held in such high regard give me such confirmation if my direction in life built me up more than a thousand wordy compliments ever would.

When I heard she had passed, I packed up my family, and went to my parents, where Moo, Loki and I stayed for the rest of the week, with Rhys coming to join us when work permitted. I helped out as much as I could. I like to think I am good in a crisis. When things get tough, I put my head down. Every time in this last week that I did something to help out, I felt the heaviness in my heart lift just a little. I felt her flash me a grateful look, and I knew I was doing what she would have wanted me to do. And although it was bittersweet, I really feel like this last week was her final gift to me.

I was able to spend almost a whole week with my mother and father, which I really enjoyed. I was able to see my aunts pull together and and the next generation step into her shoes. I saw my own mother, who I already think the world of, become even more amazing in my eyes. I witnessed my father shine at what he does best- being the quiet, steady rock of our family. I spent time with, and had long chats with my sister and felt really connected with her after a busy semester. I felt my husbands support in a way I never had before. I got to spend time with my youngest female cousin, Ella, and came to see that she isn’t just the nice girl I always knew she was, but a truly beautiful, thoughtful woman that I genuinely enjoy the company of. I looked through so many wonderful photos from the last couple of years, and was endlessly grateful Nannie had taken and kept them. I saw my male cousins express such strength and caring, and I saw my very youngest cousin draw on all he had learnt from my grandmother and deliver his part of her eulogy with clarity and confidence I didn’t even know he had. I witnessed my own tiny daughter’s joy, her ability to lift spirits of everyone around her, her sweetness and empathy towards everyone when she didn’t even know what was going on. I saw my whole family, and then some, come together. And when we were together, it was like we were all at home. We cried, we laughed, we reminisced, we ate, we sung songs about running bears and coconuts. We sipped champagne and demolished a box of Favourites, because we all knew that’s what she would have done.

I like to think my Nannie has been with us this last week as we prepared to let her go. Every time I entered her home, I felt such peace, and I truly wanted to stay for ever. After the funeral, we lined two sides of the road and released balloons into the air as a final goodbye. It looked so beautiful. They rose incredibly quickly, but a family friend managed to snap a photo as they sailed away. In the photo, two rays of sunlight are beaming down to earth brightly through the clouds. When I was little, Mum always told me that meant someone was going to Heaven, and I believe on that day, that’s what I saw.

On my way home, as I drove away from my parents house, my eyes filled with tears. I had no music of my own on me, so switched on the radio. A dance song was on, which isn’t my favourite genre, and I almost flicked over, but just as I did, the lyrics started up – ‘Don’t you worry child. See, Heaven’s got a plan for you.’ I felt calmness. I like to think she was giving me one last little bit of reassurance.

We will miss you.

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I’m An, the wife of a wonderful, but extremely nerdy gamer, a mother to two, a scientist, an amateur pastry chef, a daughter, a sister and a friend.

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