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Death is just life's next big adventure. - J. K. Rowling

I don't know where to begin this post. On Good Friday my family lost an very important member... my Nana.

It is incredibly sad and somewhat unexpected. On the Tuesday the Dr said she had gone into Congestive Heart Failure and she would only have a couple more weeks. On Wednesday morning he called and said she took a turn for the worse and to get the family here ASAP, she would be gone in 24-48 hours.

My Nana has suffered with Alzheimer's for the past 7 years... that we know of. She was very good at hiding it. Once my Poppy died we all noticed her erratic behavior and loss of memory. The day before I moved to Penticton my Nana moved into a beautiful Home right up the street. We visited her weekly, sometimes 2-3 times a week. She came home for holidays and for dinners. 

I knew my Nana in so many different ways.

As a young baby one of my first memories is sitting in the green rocking chair snuggled up to my Nana’s blue velour nightrobe. I know it is a memory of her because I can remember her smell. As a young girl I remember Uncle Robin, Auntie Lauren, Meghan and Brea coming to visit, this was so long ago Ash wasn’t even born yet,  and the whole family made plans to go to Grand Beach… on the same day as my last day of school field trip to the zoo. I woke up very early, Nana was always up early. The warm morning sun was streaming into the living room and I sat there and asked her, what should I do? She told me to follow my heart and I would never make the wrong decision. She also said family was very important and how nice it would be to spend time with my cousins. Deep in my heart I knew that I should go to Grand Beach. But, I went to the zoo. It was a terrible day. The zoo train caught on fire and we all had to hike back and my legs got burns on them. I knew right there that Nana was right on 2 accounts, always follow my heart and family is the most important thing.

As I got a bit older Nana gave me a typewriter. She was the best pen pal. I feel this was an important lesson and to this day, I am trying to instill this value in my own children, the importance that in this technologically crazy time that we are living in, we need to take the time to look up from our pads, phones, and laptops to take the time to write a letter… keep in contact with family.

That was something my Nana did. She was a storyteller.   

Kari and I were lucky enough to spend summers here in Penticton so we got to know Nana on a daily basis. Sometimes she was happy and sometimes she wasn’t. Sometimes she was mean and sometimes she was kind. Sometimes she was petty and sometimes she was generous to a fault. But she always loved. We got to do so many wonderful things in our summer adventures that I will always hold dear in my heart and I am thankful I got to know her during the time before her Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately the younger grandkids and even my kids did not know her as the vivacious, storyteller that laughed with her full belly and had an amazing sense of humor. For that I am sad. Hopefully the stories that we tell them and the pictures that they see will help them see her for who she truly was.

As a teenager I knew Nana as the woman that I would call when Mom and I had a fight. She was my confidant. I remember 1 time in particular, Nana and Poppy were visiting and Mom and I had an argument and Nana, even with her bad knees hobbled down to my bedroom to reiterate what she had so many years before. She told me how much my Mom loved me and that family was everything. Words were said but not meant and family knows that no matter what love trumps all.

As an adult Nana was the one I called to help me make my first 3 layer meringue raspberry Christmas dessert. Kari and I were up all night making that stupid dessert. Nana talked us through it over the phone, laughing the entire time.

As a mother I have seen Nana slowly deteriorate from the woman that I knew as a child to well, for the lack of a better term a child herself. She no longer told stories, she had turned into the listener. She no longer had that love for changing the world that had made her torture the federal government for years writing letters. That passion that she helped form in me and now I do the writing to the editor, to the government, to the places of business, or anyone who I think needs to hear my opinion.

Over the past 3 years I have helped my Nana go to the bathroom, helped feed her and combed her hair. All the things that she did for me I had the privilege of doing for her. I have taken my children Rowyn and Sydney, both by the way she felt had boys names and never tired of telling me that she didn’t like the name Sydney, up to visit her and watched her on her good days delight in the fact that there were little ones that were  going to carry her family on.

I have spent countless hours talking about all the grandkids lives, what they are doing and how they are I have showed her pictures of her great grandkids. I have told her the same stories I had heard her tell countless times. In the end if there was nothing else… there was love.

I know that she got to see both of her brothers, her 3 sons and her daughter in her last day, this made her very happy, I know this because she told me time and time again to cherish family. She held on to see her family because that was the most important thing to her. I know that my Nana missed my Poppy more than anything. I think they are watching us right now and they are very happy that we were all here and that we were all together.

The night before she passed I sat beside her and reread all the cards and letters from her family and friends that she had received over the years. We looked at pictures and I recalled stories of the awesome summers when we put on performances for the adults in the backyard.

One of the last times I saw her one of her nurses came in and said how lucky Nana was to have such a loving family that was by her side, I said no we are the lucky ones to have her as the Matriarch of our family, she made us the loving close knit family that we are today. But I think my cousin Daryl said it best in a meaningful message to his sister when he said, “Perhaps the greatest gift ever was bringing lives together and the family she represents. It’s a gift that will never go unappreciated and despite the sadness we now feel, we owe her everything.”

This past week I went to the library to take out books about death and 
how to explain it to Rowyn. I came across this book and I read it to her and we discussed it and she said at the end of our discussion, Mommy I think GG will like it there. I agree so I would like to share it with you now…  

The Next Place by Warren Hanson

The next place that I go will be as peaceful and familiar as a sleepy summer Sunday and a sweet, untroubled mind.

And yet… it won’t be anything like any place I’ve ever been… or seen… or even dreamed of in the place I leave behind.

I won’t know where I am going, and I won’t know where I’ve been as I tumble through the always and look back toward the when.

I’ll glide beyond the rainbows. I’ll drift above the sky. I’ll fly into the wonder, without ever wondering why.

I won’t remember getting there. Somehow I’ll just arrive. But I’ll know that I belong there and will feel much more alive than I have ever felt before.

I will be absolutely free of the things that I held onto that were holding onto me.

The next place that I go will be so quiet and so still the whispered song of sweet belonging will rise up to fill the listening sky with joyful silence, and with the unheard harmonies of music made by no one playing, like a hush upon a breeze.

There will be no room for darkness in that place of living light, Where an ever-dawning morning pushes back the dying night.

The very air will fill the brilliance, as the brightly shining sun and the moon and half a million stars are married into one.

The next place that I go won’t really be a place at all. There won’t be any seasons – winter, summer, spring or fall  -

Nor a Monday, nor a Friday, nor a December, nor July. And the seconds will be standing still… while hours hurry by.

I will not be a boy or girl, a woman or a man.

I’ll simply be just, simply, me. No worse no better than.

My skin will not be dark or light. I won’t be fat or tall. The body I once lived in won’t be part of me at all.

I will finally be perfect. I will be without a flaw. I will never make one more mistake, or break the smallest law.

And the me that was impatient, or was angry, or unkind, will simply be a memory. The me I left behind.

I will travel empty-handed. There is not a single thing I have collected in my life that I would ever want to bring


The love of those who loved me, and the warmth of those who cared. The happiness and memories and magic that we shared.

Though I will know the joy of solitude… I’ll never be alone.

I will be embraced by all the family and friends I’ve ever known. Although I might not see their faces , all our hearts will beat as one, and the circle of our spirits will shine brighter than the sun.

I will cherish all the friendships I was fortunate enough to find,
all the love and all the laughter in the place I leave behind.

All these good things will go with me. They will make my spirit glow. And that light will shine forever in the next place that I go. 

She met my girls and I got to spend quality time with her in her last few years. I guess we have to look at the small positives. I just want to say Thank you to my Nana. Thank you for being a strong role model. Thank you for teaching me how to cook, bake and knit. Thank you for taking me to ceramics, swimming, the library and on adventures when I was young. Thank you for giving me some of the best summers of my life. Thank you for raising my Mom. Thank you for teaching me about true love and what it takes to keep a marriage together. Thank you for loving me and giving me good advice. Thank you for keeping our whole family together... I will keep your memory alive and try to follow in your footsteps, because the most important thing in life is Family.

L-o-v-e Nana
Ellen Little
 November 12, 1932 - March 29, 2013


Kari,  April 9, 2013 at 6:58 PM  

Beautiful.Just beautiful Kris. XO

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