I've been thinking a lot about our Nanny. As I write this blog post, I'm listening to Collective Soul's "run" --- and I can't help but think of her full life.
She was born in Macedonia in a small Village in 1930. She saw the wars. Her stories are incredible. She re tells them clearly reciting the images of helping the soldiers with their wounds, running back and fourth between villages with messages, and hiding away from the Gureilla Soldiers that would hide in the mountains above the villages.
Coming to Canada was a big deal.
Her family wanted a better life. Once here, they settled in the Hamilton and Toronto area, with other Macedonian families.
She and our Dedo met, married, and had 3 incredible kids. Tom, Diane and Julie. They are a testimony of the importance of family bonds, and sticking together, no matter what.
Nanny is jokingly referred to in our family as "the cat with 100 lives". Her body has been though SO much from a sickness standpoint, but she has always recovered. I don't know exact medical details (because there are so darn many!) but she has a bunch of miracles to talk about, and she gives her Creator all the glory. Rightfully so. If you saw her medical history, you would not believe what He has done in, through and with her.
My thoughts drift back and fourth to just how hard Nanny has worked her entire life. We recently visited her in Barrie, Ontario, and I kept on studying her hands in mine. Holding them. Turning them over. Feeling her tiny bones. Her knobby knuckles. The cool, smooth finger tips. Gently pressing on her purple and blue veins. The labour they have put out. Those incredible hands.
I asked her what God's been telling her lately. She always has something to say about Jesus, and I love her stories.
She spoke about a dream that she had, clearly. It was a vision that a large and healthy tree. The trunk was huge, and off the large branches there were hundreds of gifts. She was standing in this dream, looking at the tree. She felt inside her that God was showing her just how blessed she has been in her life. All of the branches were her family, and the gifts were things that God had blessed her family with. She said He was reminding her just how full her life has been. So full. She kept on repeating those words over and over.
"I've had such a full life".
I looked around while we were there at all of the sunken-in faces, the longing eyes. We stayed for dinner, and during the meal our son was laughing hysterically about something. Typically I would have asked him to keep it down... but glancing up around the room of the yearning on lookers... I saw dull eyes light up. Laughter. A child's laugh. Some were even brought to tears at the sound. (So I hammed it up a little, and kept him going for a little while to let them bask in the happy glow). :-)
Nanny lost her husband, our Dedo, just shy of a year ago, in May of 2012. They had been married for 60 years the year he peacefully passed. She was by his side. What would it be like spending that amount of time with someone, and then. They are gone. Bed lies empty. Sheets cold.
What would it be like closing your eyes at night, not knowing if you'll wake.
What is is like being told when to eat. What to eat. Not being able to cook any longer when your life's passion was cooking and serving your family and friends. To not garden. Would your hands cry out for soil and your palms for calluses? Would your body ache not of old age, but of loss of something much deeper.
Passions lost. Freedom gone. Your very existence being dictated by a system or institution's schedule.
Would you pretend to your family like everything is OK... knowing it would hurt them to know otherwise.
Would you have any regrets of not travelling to see the world. Not being able to travel any longer for purely health related reasons. What would it be like to live a full life, but wondering how much further you have to run... until its... Gone.
One thing is for certain. Nanny has the rested assurance that she will see her Jesus' shining face, and looks very much forward to the day when she can run with Him in Heaven. Be reunited with her husband and relatives.
Her joy is in Him. Her hope is in Him. Her life is cradled in His hands.
I am so thankful for her stories. Her life. The lives she has created, the legacy that she has left. I am thankful for her heart. Big and wide. I am thankful for being adopted in, grafted into the tapestry of her family, seamlessly as her granddaughter.
I am blessed.