Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ode to Nana and Pop Pop

Well, as most of you already know, I lost my beloved Nana – Marjorie Ruth Murch Hansen – on March 22.  She had turned 87-years-old on Tuesday March 1 and three weeks later, she succumbed to her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

On Monday March 14, she went into the hospital because she wasn’t feeling well.  After getting some medication, my Aunt Trish reported that she was doing much better but on Tuesday when she got out of her hospital bed to use the restroom, she had a heart attack and coded.  The doctor on call neglected to look at her chart – which would have revealed that she had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order – and revived her.  Let me tell you, Nana was PISSED!

But I can honestly say that, even though Nana was upset by being revived, it was truly a blessing.  My Mother, Cousin Jimmy and I were able to fly in and actually say good-bye to her.  She was on morphine, medication and oxygen when I arrived on Wednesday but, on Thursday afternoon, she was moved up to the Hospice unit and taken off any life-saving measures.  By dinner time on Friday, she had slipped into a coma and passed away almost exactly four days later.

Overall, it has been a sad time for our whole family.  But we all truly felt so lucky that we were able to be with her during her last days.  We all had a chance to speak with her in private and say good-bye.  It seems like a morbid situation -- because she was so accepting and open to dying – but it was really one of the most positive and open experiences of my life.   There were no regrets.

But I can tell you that my heart is heavy with sadness, but there is a comfort knowing that no words were left unsaid. 

Unfortunately, while in New Jersey with Nana, I found out that my grandfather Addison Loyal Williams – aka 85-year-old Pop Pop – had passed away too.  My Dad phoned me almost moments after finding out – before 911 had even been called.  At that moment, it was too much loss for me to handle.

But I consider myself so lucky to be in New Jersey so I could be a part of his funeral.  Unlike my Nana, I didn’t have a chance to say good-bye to Pop Pop.  I hadn’t spoken to him since Christmas and felt so guilty that I hadn’t called him to say hi since then.  But deep down, I know that it is wrong to beat myself up over it.  I don’t think my Pop Pop would have done it, so why should I?

I was so happy that my Uncle Phil asked me to read a scripture at the funeral.  I actually pride myself on my public speaking capabilities but, this time, I couldn’t look up from the words for fear that I would break down.  It was a very draining emotional two-day event, but I felt closure with my Pop Pop’s death that I didn’t have with my Nana.  The funeral allowed me to grieve and mourn, but also celebrate his life.

Nana wasn’t very religious, so she asked that we have a celebration of life for her on the beach in Ocean Grove.  She wants us to scatter her ashes at South End beach – just the intimate family.  We will be going back at the end of September to do this and say our final farewells.

Since both of their deaths, there hasn’t been a day that I don’t think of each of them.  With my Nana, even though we lived so far away, we were so close and she was so intertwined into my daily life here in California.  From a beautiful butterfly wind chime she made in ceramics class to all the books she bought for Shane to even my IM in which Nana’s avatar will be forever dark.

I miss my Pop Pop deeply as well.  I found a birthday card that I had bought for him last year, which I never got around to sending.  It was such a beautiful and meaningful card letting him know how important he was to me as a fatherly role model as well as a diligent Christian man.  The guilt that I didn’t send it just breaks my heart. 

Each day, a new memory lays a black veil over my heart which mutes my happiness.  But, I know that as time passes, it won’t hurt as much and instead of the feelings of grief, I will be able to remember them with only happy thoughts and feelings.

Until then, I am just trying to make sure that I am dealing with it in a well-adjusted manner.

I echo what my Nana said of her own life in the last few days she was alive, “Just like March, I came in like lion and I will go out like a lamb.”

Good bye Nana and Pop Pop, you may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.

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