in her words

My Nana is dying. She has advanced emphysema and struggles to breathe every day. She is disappearing pound by pound before my eyes and for the past week I have had the privilege of helping my mother and aunt Dot take care of her at my parents’ home in Massachusetts. In 28 years, I have never heard my Nana complain about anything. And after helping her onto a bedpan, into and out of bed, and occasionally feeding her with a spoon when she is too weak to do it herself – she still has not uttered one. Instead, she continues to thumb her nose at death, make jokes, and root against the Yankees. In short, she has continued being my Nana, she has continued teaching me about the important things in life.


After a 30 minute coughing spell, her breathing steadied, and gasps subsided. She opened her eyes, clasped her Boston Red Sox blanket, and focused on my face. “What’s happening in the game?” she asked.


Jen: Nana, what is the best and worst thing about being a woman?
Nana: (Thinks.) The sex.
Jen: (Jaw drops.) What about for a man?
Nana: The same.


Nana: There’s God, and then there’s Larry (my dad, her son-in-law.)
Mom: Then who?
Nana: Your father.
Dot: Then who?
Nana: The girls. My daughters.
Mom: Dot, we got promoted!


Nana: How are the boys?
Me: I don’t have a boy.
Nana: That’s OK. It’s not all a bed of roses you know – unless you find the right one.
Me: Well, what do you have – a bed of roses or weeds?
Nana: I got lucky.
Dot: (eyebrows arch) Really?
Nana: Sometimes your father can be an ass. And a slob. But he’s a good guy, he has a good heart.

5 thoughts on “in her words

  1. I have to tell you that while Nana continues to weaken, somehow the strength she once possessed is seeping into those of us that surround her. I have never felt so much love or laughed so much as I did last week at “Munson Memorial”!

    As I watched you “rally the old bird”, I knew that it would not last forever. I will take it for what it was…an incredibly precious bonding experience with those that I love the most.

    I will miss you Kris, your folks will miss you, Bella will miss you….but most of all – Nana & Gramps will miss you. Mom and I will do our best to keep her going till you come home again.


  2. I totally forgot I said that.

    Keep her going. I haven’t showed you guys all my skills yet. Remember, small bites, make it pretty, and eat with her. (and don’t let Grampa feed her with a spoon.)

    love you guys. Best nurses ever

  3. Oh – Kristen you forgot one more thing… Plating! Don’t bring it on a tray – place on a small plate instead!

    And it was really an honor to be able to be at your parents house and be a witness to such love and care of your strong family!

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