I called my Canadian grandmother, Nana. She lived through two World Wars and well beyond to the time when my own children were in school. She was the wife of a country doctor, my grandfather, and the mother of a son, my Uncle and a daughter, my Mother. Nana taught me by example. She loved God with all her heart and played the organ in her Anglican church until she reached her mid-eighties. She loved her neighbor, whom ever that may have been and in whatever circumstances she may have come across them from moment to moment throughout her life wherever her life took her.
We, my cousins and I, never knew who might show up at the dinner table or after supper and typically we had no idea whom they might be as they sat down with us. They may have dropped by to try to sell insurance. They may even have just gotten lost and ended up on the lane leading to our home. All we really knew is that there was another stranger at the table or on the sun porch and we could hear Nana’s words, “have a little dinner; have a little sandwich, have a little cup of tea.”
Everything we did as children seemed to take a little or a lot longer than might normally be expected because we invariably stopped to talk to virtually everyone we passed. Nana cared for everyone. She loved her neighbor, whom ever that may have been at that moment and she showered us with irreplaceable gifts like walking through her garden in the morning and picking pansies for the center of the dinner table or jumping in the car after supper, stopping for an ice cream cone and making our way to just the perfect spot along the river to watch the setting sun, often followed by stopping the car to pick dusty wild raspberries along the edge of the road home. Raspberry pie would follow at the next meal.
Nana understood from moment to moment throughout each and every day that the person before her at that moment was God’s child and God called upon her to care for that child to the very best of her ability. She never spoke those words. She didn’t have to. It’s just what she did, and she did it joyfully all her life long. She did it in good times and she did it in times when she must have known the very deepest pain in her life and she never complained.
I thank God for my incredible, faith filled “Nana”.
PS: She once sutured up the forehead of a slightly inebriated man she brought home who had collided into her car. Naturally he was invited to stay for “a little dinner!” We all smiled! I have a hunch God smiled too.