Last weekend, my family gathered in a hospital room to be with our Nana, who had been sick for a while and late last week, took a turn for the worst. We sat with her, ate pizza, played Sequence and told stories. Sunday afternoon, Hubs and I began the drive from St. Louis back to Des Moines. About half way there, my sister called and asked me to turn around. I did and about 30 minutes after I got back in the hospital room and just one inning shy of the Cardinals securing their spot in the World Series, Nana passed away peacefully.
It's been a hard week with lots of little logistical frustrations made worse by our raw grief and coming to terms with what happened that night. But, through the sadness, we've been able to see the small signs and signals which remind us that someone is most definitely looking out for our family. It began with me spotting a billboard on my drive down for a podunk little airline - the same one that would later fly me over the hospital and return me to my family at the exact right time. It continued with a "Welcome" balloon given to Nana when she moved into a nursing home a few weeks ago rushing out of the car and sailing away as my Mom arrived at the church for the funeral. It happened again at the cemetery, where we arrived early, allowing my sister to be near her phone when, at the originally scheduled burial time, she got a phone call with good news about a potential job.
Small though these are, they have given me and my family the peace we need to move forward. We'd known this was coming for a while; Nana was diagnosed with cancer about 18 months ago. Thanks to her medicine and the care my Mom gave her, she was able to enjoy much of that time. If you look at her obituary, you'll see we asked for donations for the Chronic Disease Fund in lieu of flowers. That's the non-profit that paid for her meds, which was one of the greatest gifts we could have received. They help with medical costs for all kinds of chronic diseases: cancer, MS, heart failure, ALS and more. The treatments for these diseases can be incredibly expensive and can wipe out savings in just a few months in some cases.
Now, go send your Nana a letter. If she's anything like mine, she'll stash it away with all the others. Nanas are excellent stashers, as well as superb readers, skilled free-drink-getters, perfect knowers of current events, really good salad connosuiers and irreplaceable encouragers.