The wisest and funniest woman I ever met

by Camelia
(New Jersey)

Where do I start? My nana had me until I was eight. Then my mother tricked her into sending me to the states for at least two weeks in the summer and kept me. My nana is the only real mother I ever knew. Loving, supportive, wise. All the qualities my “mother” didn’t possess. Every summer of every year I spent with my grandparents. I looked forward to this every year because they gave me the emotional support that my mother didn’t know how to provide. My grandfather passed away first when I was sixteen. That was devastating as he was the only male figure in my life but I accepted it because I still had my grandmother who was funny, strong and loving
Last time I saw her alive was approximately ten years ago. Between money issues, my insecurities and my crazy brother, whom resided with her, it was hard to go visit. She always asked when I was going to visit. I would tell her that I wanted to but was worried how my brother would act. I wanted her to come to me, to stay at my house. She didn’t want to leave my brother’s side and would come up with excuses to not travel. I spoke to her often. I loved talking to her.
July of 2011, was her 90th birthday. I had it all planned out. My mom, my sister, my niece and I would go to her and take her on a cruise. I was excited. Planning and looking up cruises. I call my nana to talk to her about the cruise. I wanted to know if she had a current passport and if she preferred a Caribbean cruise. She was not excited. She said she was scared to be in the middle of the ocean. I didn’t continue my plans.
I found out that my boyfriend of ten years cheated on me and we broke up. Then my young cousin committed suicide. I couldn’t handle much of anything. My nana too went into a depression because of my cousin. I still didn’t go see her. I called every other day and checked up on her.
In November of the same year, she had her first stroke. My mother lied to me. I was told she went to the hospital because she had a heart problem but I wasn’t told about her bypass surgery. I still didn’t go see her. I told my mother that she should go and tell me how bad it was. I think I was in denial. My mother didn’t go. I called her every day to make sure. She assured me she was getting better. My uncle’s wife was helping her and she felt strong.
I told her I was coming to see her for my birthday, February 14. We spoke about what we would do and laughed. She assured me she felt strong and no longer felt pain. December 18, 2011 she had a second stroke. My brother calls my mom on the 19th at night. I am upset. Why didn’t he call us the same day? He says that nana didn’t want us to worry. She “knew” she was making it back home. Everyone keeps telling us that she is fine. Don’t rush here, it’s not an emergency. Yeah, right. I tell my mom to book a flight for all of us to go. The following day, I had to go to work to request the time. They denied my request stating that grandparents aren’t covered in the emergency leave. I request furloughed time. I WILL see her alive no matter the consequence. I spoke to her that day around 1 pm. She said she felt pain in her chest but not too bad. She was sorry she couldn’t speak to me too much but she was cold and wanted to cover up. My uncle was with her. I said I loved her very much and that I would see her soon. She passed at 4 pm that day.
How do I forgive myself for not going to see her? I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. All those times she supported me and when given the opportunity, I didn’t return the favor. I can’t go back in time and change the past, I understand that. I just can’t live with this regret. She was all I had left. Just hearing her voice brought a smile to my face.

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