Monday, April 1, 2013

Missing Sweet Jean

Today is the birthday of my amazing mother-in-law.  We haven't been able to hear her infectious laugh or have long talks with her in her den in over four years, but we think about her every day.  I doubt many people are as lucky as I was when it comes to in-laws.  I hit the jackpot, to be sure!

Tim's mom, Jean, (mostly referred to as Nanny in our house) quit suffering right before Christmas in 2008, but there are little pieces of her everywhere.  I couldn't have loved her more if she were my own Mom, and I thank God for allowing us to be family.

I wrote this just after she died, and it seemed a fitting tribute for her birthday.

My Tribute to Nanny

In December the world changed.  We lost our “Nanny”, and everything seems different now.  There is a welcoming smile and a fun laugh and two twinkling eyes that are no longer present here, and so the world is missing something special. 

It is hard for me to believe that I have only known Tim’s mother for eleven years, for it seems that she has been part of my life always.  I remember the day I met her, but I don’t ever remember a time that I did not feel close to her.  Somehow, upon meeting Jean Graham, you knew that you were known, that you were welcomed and that you were loved.  I am forever changed by that knowledge, and I thank God that my children knew that, too. 

While we begin to figure out life without Nanny, I have spent hours and hours remembering my favorite things about her, my funniest recollections, and my favorite memories.  I remember exact moments – like the sound of her voice when we called to say that we were engaged or her entrance into the hospital room when Molly was born, coming out of her heavy sweater, handing over her purse, running to the bed and saying, “Give me that baby!”  But I remember predictable moments, too, that happened again and again.  I know the wide-eyed look, as she peered  over the back of her chair when we entered the back door, and I hear her saying, “Come in the house.”  I remember the look in her eyes and the feel of her hands as she settled herself, and told me just where to put the baby in her lap.  I remember the laugh, again and again, and I remember so many fun times around the table playing whichever game we happened to be playing at the time.  I remember her patience with my children – that she had as much time as needed to wait for them to figure out a card game or to trample dirt through the living room or to take half of the kitchen ware into the yard to make “pies” and “cakes.”  I will forever remember that everyone in town, it seems, called to check in with her daily, and I hope I can always hear in my mind the way she said, “MmmmmHello” as she answered the phone. 

What I will miss most, though, is harder to describe, and I suspect that many others will miss the same. What I will miss most is the unspoken understanding that I shared with her.  It is not easy to explain, but it was very easy to feel.  From the moment we met, I felt that we shared some special secret, some special way of knowing what the other was thinking.  I treasure the talks we shared, the looks we exchanged and the times we could not stop laughing about things that probably were not even that funny.  So often, I had the sense and the assurance that she knew what was going on with me, what I was thinking, what I was wishing.  I treasure the simple moments we shared in the living room – I was always on the couch and she was always in her  chair – and it was always easy. 

So that, I guess, was one of her greatest gifts to us all.  She made things easy.  It was easy to be known by her, it was easy to be loved by her, it was easy to be comforted by her, and it was easy to feel happy with her.  I am forever changed by her and by the love and the life that she and Granddaddy built together.  It has been easy to be their daughter-in-law and one of the great blessings of my life. There will never be a time that I don’t miss Nanny, but I am thankful for all of the pieces of her that I see in my children and for the times that Tim sounds just like her.   And every now and then I smile, hoping that she is laughing in the middle of the best game of “Hand and Foot” ever.  I love you, Nan


  1. Deana,

    I loved reading this again. I so miss my sweet Aunt Jean.


    1. Thank you so much, favorite cousin! (: We miss her so much, too. Sometimes it's still hard to believe we can't see her anymore. I see her in my kids so often, though, and I love that. I have never known anyone more fun to 'hang out' with than her! Love you! Deana


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