Thursday, January 19, 2012

Goodbye, Nanny Baer

Nanny, you will always be a part of me. You were my rock when my little world broke apart at three-years old and you picked me up for weekend visits. You made me chicken pot pie for dinner and milk pie for dessert. I woke up to fried potatoes and cream of wheat. We wandered the farmer's market together and watched countless movies together over pizza and talked long, reassuring talks over hot tea. You were my soft place to fall and my never-ending source of love and encouragement. As I grew up, I could always talk to you. I remember every story you ever told me over card games at the beach and our annual Christmas Eve drink. I remember our first drink together when I turned 21 and the dances at the fire hall and shots of peach schnapps. I remember hot tea with a splash of brandy when I was sick and your homemade rice pudding.

You taught me to see past people's problems to the person they truly are. You always had a warm dish to comfort those in need. You gathered up resources and turned catastrophes into opportunities to come together and love and care for one another. You are the epitome of unconditional love. My favorite childhood memories are of you – new Year's eve, Christmas Village, Zern's and your house. I feel helpless, with a big hole in my chest, again, like when dad died. Even then, you were my touchstone. I could handle it if I could sit with you at your tiny kitchen table in the apartment on Main Street eating dough ball soup. Even as you grieved for your son, a fate I can only imagine as I hug my little boy to me tonight, you comforted me. I could handle anything the world threw at me because I had a remarkably loving and intelligent grandmother like you. You were kindness personified and your love made me stronger. You loved me unconditionally, completely. What do I do without you, now?

Now, I can only hope that I can be just a tiny bit like you and love my children the way you taught me; love my husband the way you taught me; care for the people in my life the way you taught me. Now, I hope I can live my life the way you did, as if I wasn't afraid, and love as if I could never get hurt. Thank you for loving me so wonderfully and teaching me the greatest lesson of all -- that nothing matters more than the people you share your life with. Thank you for being. I picture you young again, dancing, laughing and hugging all the people you lost while you were alive.

I was so blessed to have you for 40 years, but I want 40 more. I don't know how to say goodbye. I don't want to say goodbye.

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