I remember several road trips & back and forth drives to my parents’ cruising with my grandma, always wearing my seatbelt, singing at the top of our lungs to Roger Miller songs. We knew every song by heart and she sang with such happiness and silliness in her voice. I used to love singing with my mother, but after she passed something changed. I took a break from choir in junior high to try new things thinking I didn’t want to sing again. But my grandmother pushed me out of my comfort zone and constantly reminded me that I need to share my talent of singing. We would often gather around the piano and sing church hymns and a variety of other songs. That will forever be a solid memory of my grandma. She sure knew how to play the piano and sing in her beautiful alto voice. If you ask most anyone, I have a hard time accepting compliments about my voice. But my grandma encouraged me to be proud and confident about singing and to always find a place to share with others. In her honor, I hope to always be able to uplift others with my voice and stay confident about what I have to offer.
I remember multiple times in which my sister and I would have conversations about how having “1 Grandma Diana was better than having 4 mediocre grandparents.” We lucked out with her, because our luck with grandparents didn’t pan out so well. We will forever be thankful for her ability to fill all the roles we need in our lives. From bossy grandma, to loving nurturer, an incredible cook, to a taxi driver, & a beautiful pianist, a provider, our protector, the nosy shopper, to a badass fighter, to a reverant church goer. The list goes on. We couldn’t be prouder to be granddaughters of Mary Diana Nation.
I remember several times in which I would call my grandma up and just by the tone of my voice she knew something was wrong. And of course I would be a blubbering mess by the time I was done, but she was always the person I could cry to, and laugh with, and say whatever was on my mind whether it be 2 PM or 2 AM. She was there. Always. And I can’t say that about very many people. And so maybe that’s what I’ll miss the most. Just knowing she was always a phone call away.
I remember the first time my grandma ever showed me the hole in her chest. She did it without any hesitation. She just asked, “do you want to see my fake boob?” It was so fascinating to me as a kid. She said, “don’t be afraid, you can touch it.” And normally it may sound weird, but it wasn’t for me…because first of all…I have an incredible bond with my grandma. And second of all, her scar came from beating cancer. And I thought that was the coolest thing ever. She came so close to death before I was born. And I can’t say it enough how much it means to me that she was strong enough to fight and be alive in my lifetime. Every time I see a pink ribbon. I’ll think of her.
I remember on quite a few occasions when I was a little low on money, or food, or love…and she would fill me up like a gas station. She hardly skipped a beat. She would ask me what I needed and to always be honest about my needs. And she would buy me new clothes, groceries, etc. I always had a hard time asking, because that’s just how I am, but she never had a hard time giving. She had my back for most everything and anything. But it wasn’t just me I saw her help. It was others, too. Strangers even. And it’s rare to come by people these days who give more than they take. And at times I thought maybe I was taking advantage of her, but she didn’t let me think that for too long—because she looked me in the eye one day and said, something along the lines of, “Sam, don’t you ever hesitate to call me. Even if I can’t give you money or things…I can always give you love and advice. I may be bossy and think I know everything all the time, but you just come to me and we’ll figure it out. Whatever it is.”
So I know she didn’t mind. She always helped financially when she could, but it was the emotional help that will forever remain in my heart.
I remember when I used to help clean my grandma’s work weekly. She worked at a law firm and we would dump garbages and vacuum even though the carpets always looked brand new. One day we were dumping all the trash outside and just before we left my grandma noticed a lady shivering beside the building. She offered her a ride, no questions asked. As a kid it didn’t take me long to look at this woman and see that she did not have much. She wasn’t wearing a coat and it had just freshly snowed. We ended up driving her down Main Street to a local bar. I remember thinking that that was quite possibly the worse thing you could do. I was a kid. I didn’t know hardly anything. I still don’t know much. But I do know bars are not of the devil. And I guess I was under the impression that they were where “bad things” happened. I remember turning to my grandma and whispering as we said goodbye to the stranger, “Grandma, she just went into a bar.” My grandma turned to me and said, “And? There’s nothing wrong with helping people to where they need to go. Sometimes you just have to take people to the bars.” And that has stuck with me in most every situation I have thought of in my life where I come across someone doing something or saying something I don’t agree with. It’s opened my mind a great deal. It’s not up to us to judge and decide what’s good and bad for people. It’s just up to us to support people and help them on their way, regardless of where that takes them…because ultimately we do not have control over people’s choices. My grandmother gave me many things, but staying open minded, full of love with no judgements and forgiving others are by far the most important things she ever gave me.
I also remember a time in which I first got my driver’s permit and I was invited to go on a road trip with my great grandma Betty and grandma Diana to Montana. On the way back from Glacier, Montana grandma Diana let me drive while grandma Betty slept in the back. We were going around about six hundred curves through the mountains. And all of a sudden a dark cloud hovered over us and started pouring cats and dogs. It was raining so hard my vision was clearly impaired and I was struggling to turn on the windshield wipers. While doing so I slowed down from about 80 to almost 45 mph. I was freaking out. But grandma remained surprisingly calm and asked me why I was slowing down. I responded in a panic, “I can’t see!” And she responded, “you don’t slow down under a rain cloud; you keep your speed and get through it. And you use your windshield wipers!” During this whole process, grandma Betty woke up and asked, “Are we dying?” And grandma Diana laughed and said, “No…we’re just learning.”
And over the years I’ve come to understand that that experience was just another metaphor my grandma inserted into my life whenever there was an opportunity to learn something. She was always teaching me. Always encouraging me. Always supporting me. Always accepting me. Always making me laugh. Always being present when I needed her the most. Giving me advice through the chaos, and hugging me through the silent tears. And always loving me without a doubt.
I am going to miss being able to call her up on the phone and just talk about my day. Although she is not here physically, I will draw comfort knowing that if I start to panic to just “keep my speed and use my windshield wipers”. Thank you grandma for fighting to be in my life. I’m so happy you’re in peace. I love you, and I’ll see you again.