I remember my Nannie as one of the most energetic and intelligent women I have ever met. My mother’s mother, we lived with her and Papa for awhile when I was very young, while my parents were divorcing and Mom was figuring out how to be a single mother.
Nannie was my second Mom. When Mom was working as a nurse, she and I did everything together. Grocery shopping, going to the bank (that’s where Nannie worked, so we went there a lot), visiting her cousin, going to the park, swimming, you name it, it was me and her. And I always remember her smiling and laughing.
As she got older, her health began to rapidly decline. Type I diabetes took its toll, her heart became weak and she had go on dialysis. She went from this healthy, vivacious woman to being confined to a wheelchair on oxygen. For most of her day, especially after dialysis, she stayed in the den of her home, getting out of the recliner was too much effort and that was the most comfortable chair in the house. Her world shrunk down to that room for the majority of her day.
After realizing that this was her life now and it would not be improving, she asked Papa to call someone and have the wood paneling in the den painted white. I did not understand this. The den had always had wood paneling, to paint over it would be sacrilege (I’m happy to report my love for 70s faux wood paneling has deteriorated into nothingness since then). But Nannie insisted. And Papa was not about to refuse Nannie’s any wish.
I returned the next weekend, thinking I would never be able to enter the den again without wanting to cry, and instead of crying, walked into a bright, sunny room. The den had never looked so cheery! I told Nannie she was right, it looked much better. She smiled, scooted over a bit on her lounge chair so I could sit up there with here, and explained that there were many things in this life that we could not change, but we had to figure out how to make the best of it. She knew she would spend the majority of the rest of her life in this room, but there was no reason the room needed to feel like a dark cave. And she was happy.