No fruity bits Nana!

This is a difficult blog to write. My grandmother, the person the book is dedicated to, passed away this week. She was 88, comfortable and surrounded by family. I wasn't there personally but was complete with her. We all have grandparents, and I am sure most people reading this blog can relate to where I am, both emotionally and physically. 

I wrote to Nana over the last eight years as I was living in Vancouver. I would write her a letter every two weeks.  She once commented that it was like getting letters from a teenager and I know she was making fun of me. That defined our relationship. She was a matriarch in the truest sense, and had individual relationships with her ever-growing clan of children and grandchildren. She was a huge part of my life over the last forty years and our relationship grew as I did. She was always up for listening to anything I had to say. She allowed me to just be me, and that was her greatest gift to me. 

As she is now gone, I will not get an opportunity to write her another letter. So I would like to use this blog as my last letter to her and put it out in the world. 

Dear Nana,

This is going to be my last letter to you. You are now up in heaven and I hope you are behaving. Please remember that God is the boss. You are missed down here but know that we are all taking care of each this Christmas. There is so much I could say, and hopefully have said to you. So for this last correspondence, I wanted to highlight for you, my top three "Nana memories". 

In third place, is a recent memory; Summer 2018, this was one of our last conversations actually. I knew this summer you were failing. You were "fine" but that trademark razor-sharp wit was absent.  I was home for the summer and I had the final proof version of Just One More Drive. I was overjoyed to have it finally finished and in my hand. You were growing impatient asking why I hadn't launched it yet. It was gratifying to give it to you and say "Here you go!".  You took it and read it in two days. I was up with you again after you were done waiting to hear what you thought. "I don't like the second half.... The first half was brilliant but I didn't like the ending." you rasped (She had partially lost her voice due to vocal cord damage.) Your answer wasn't too surprising to me. I knew the second half was more exposing and risky and I dealt with things you didn't need to read. "I got that." I replied to you. "What exactly do you not like?" I asked. (Now, I have to be careful not to spoil the ending.) "Why did you end the book the way you did?" you asked. The ending of the book was both the easiest and hardest thing to write. I knew it could be viewed as curious or possibly disappointing but it worked for me. I explained that it was what my editor and myself had discussed. You were not convinced. "And it gives me space to write a second book." I hastily added. You looked at me and smiled. Pointing your finger you said "Ah, clever. Good." And that was it. That old Nana twinkle of wickedness was there in your smile. You turned back to your television programme again and we left it at that. That was really the last time I saw you as you. I am so grateful that you got to read it and give your feedback. A huge thank you must go to Tidewater Press and their support for helping me make it happen, as well as many people, on many teams around me. Thank you all. 

In second place, is the brief conversation we had in the summer of 2011. I was home for a summer trip, rather than Christmas that year. I had joined a gym in Vancouver and had decided to get into training in a big way. So that meant a diet plan and frequent gym visits. I had bought two comic book themed comic book workout shirts. One was a classic "Superman" top with matching red shorts and a black and red "Spiderman" top that was a little bit edgier. I was up in your home dressed in my gym gear getting ready to go to the gym after stopping in for a cup of tea. As per usual, a few aunts and cousins were there. We were all in the kitchen talking over each other, as usual and I asked you: "So Nana, are you ready for the show?"  and you responded "What show?" "Ah Nana, the big show, are you ready?" You asked me again, with more edge to your voice "What show Robert?" I smiled and flexed my arm and said "The gun show Nana. the GUN show." You looked at me and said, without missing a beat; "Feck off Robert." and the kitchen erupted into laughter. I am going to miss days like that in your house. So crowded, noisy and full of life. The epitome of family.

My favourite memory of us is one of my earliest memories of you, and I think it speaks to your love and patience towards me. It was the summer of 1984 and I was in your kitchen being fed lunch.  As you remember,  I was notorious for being a fussy eater and very hard to feed (the exact opposite is true today). Anyway, you were towering over me with a yogurt in your hand. This yogurt had fruity bits in it and I hated fruit bits. I was crying. I remember you scooping tiny fruit bits out of the tub and it took you at least twenty minutes, in between feeding me small scoops of yogurt. I kept repeating "No fruity bits Nana" before every mouthful. How you didn't strangle me I will never know. But then I suspect that is the love of a grandmother; it is infinite and kind. I doubt I will ever experience that flavour of love again. With your passing, that last remnant of my childhood is gone. I will treasure it forever. 

There they are Nana, my favourite memories. Now, you are gone and I have been riding an emotional rollercoaster through anger, fury, weariness, sadness and even more anger. I am asking myself how to honour you and your memory and I keep coming back to the book. I have been hesitant about selling it and I know that came cross loud and clear in last weeks blog. Too loud and clear. Without you here to listen and support me, I feel lost. I feel like quitting and passing the responsibility to others. But that is not who I am. You raised me better than that. To honour you, I am committing to selling "our" book to the world. Taking this on, and not doing it alone. I know you still have my back and in moments of fear and despair I will remember that. I will remember this too when I appear on Ellen and during the future book tour. 

You are gone but not forgotten. All my love Nana and rest in peace.