I spoke at my Nana’s memorial this morning. Highlights…
I feel blessed to have my last grandparent die when I was 44. I learned so much from the experience of helping Joan with her last two years.
Little gestures mean a lot, particularly to the elderly – Joan gave a lot to her community, and the community gave it back when she needed it. To honor her memory, I’ve signed up to volunteer at our local hospice.
In life, everyone has a simple thing that makes them very happy. Search for that thing, when you find it, pay attention to it. Joan’s thing was telephone calls – she loved them. To create a double-whammy, we also paid her phone bill.
Favorite Memory – we used to tease her that she’d put the broccoli on the stove at the same time she’d put the roast in the oven.
Life Lesson – we can change late in life. Joan quit smoking in her 60s. More importantly, she changed her attitude in her 60s and 70s. This transformation to acceptance served her very well in aging, and in death. She was joking with all of us two days before she died (at 88).
Favorite Memory – helping her clean out her kitchen and finding canned goods older than me!
Joan loved her Dad, Wren. She was a reserved woman and the closest that I saw her to sadness was thinking about his early death. The love she held for her father has made me a better man, and a better father to my children. I’m the bridge from Joan to her great-grandkids (five total, three in my family with Monica).
Favorite Memory – Joan would track the price of gas all over the city. She always knew the best location and day to purchase.
- Self Sufficiency – she prided herself on independence and not being a burden on anyone
- Humor – she had a great sense of humor, especially in private – she enjoyed many jokes, even on her death bed
- Discretion – she was reserved
- Family – her home and her support was always welcoming to family – she helped many people without any expectation of return
Favorite Memory – she loved to track the USD:CAD exchange rate to the 1/100th of a cent. It was a BIG moment for her when we hit par. “You know dear, we’re at PAR, now.”
What did Joan teach us about aging:
- Growing old is unpleasant (and isn’t made better by complaining)
- She aged, and died, very well
- She came to accept life – a particular watershed moment was her 75th birthday, she felt grateful for the party that was organized
Two years ago, she told me that she had had a wonderful life and had been able to achieve everything she wanted. At 44, I try to bring this attitude of gratitude to my own home.
How do we make peace with time? Joan taught me:
- Be open to friends and family
- Contribute locally
- Live within our means
I love you, Nana.