Halley Elise ©2000

Featured in Happy Times Monthly, Boca Raton, FL
Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

My grandmother “Nana” has been gone now for almost three years. She passed quietly on a Thursday evening one humid night in September. . .

In her day she was a true spitfire. Even beyond her day her tremendous spirit reins within all of those who came to know her.

Nana was never too busy to lend a hand, go on a trip, give a kind word or share a bounty of warmth and kindness from the depths of her heart to whomever she’d meet. She seemed impelled to urge enthusiasm in others and don a smile. It is my belief that it was a genuine need for Nana to see others around her joyful as they lived their lives. She was the one others turned to, both family and friends when trouble erupted. Nana not only had love, she had immense strength of character and wisdom as well.

Never did I really believe in unconditional love, but I found that indeed it existed. Nana showed me that in the truest of souls love is exhibited openly and that it does exist elsewhere, one must simply seek it out. Nana displayed unconditional love each and every day; this, so unlikely from a woman who had endured so much turmoil and trauma in her own life from a very early age. Yet with each hardship she persevered. She would look directly into the face of adversity and say “this too shall pass” and “if God is for me, who could be against me?!”

From the earliest of youthful recollections, Nana was my saving grace. The one I’d speak with, be encouraged by and who had the most amazing reassuring embraces. More than my saving grace, Nana was my hearts smile!

I so looked forward to Nana’s visits on the weekend. She’d finish work then traverse through the streets of the Bronx and make her way on the subway system to Brooklyn, walk a few blocks, than finally arrive at our home. Her arrival was always anticipated with great excitement. You’d find me bounding towards the door with a grin from ear to ear and open arms, to be greeted by the same. Wrapped up in the warmest of hugs, one could try imagining.

On these visits, Nana had goodies in tow; some for me, my little brother, and for mom and dad and what delighted me so was that Nana made sure to have extras in the event a friend might stay the night. Did I mention this was almost every weekend?!

When Nana moved to Florida, it wasn’t long after that we followed. Though now it was the bus that would bring my Nana to me instead of the train. I had missed her so when she had left New York it was thrilling to know we’d be in close proximity again.

We would pick Nana up from the Grey-hound bus station; I knew the schedule from Delray Beach to Hollywood by heart. As soon as I was old enough to drive, the schedule became handy. For then, I had the pleasure of going to get Nana and bringing her home.

Nana’s unending helpfulness and love never waned. Her neighbors all dropped off their clothes that needed alterations and Nana would gladly oblige. Nana bestowed her love generously yes, but she also knew no boundaries when it came to giving in other areas. I don’t recall knowing anyone who didn’t feel love for her. Nana had worked with famous designers and fitters for most of her adult life and was superb at her craft. Over the years she had worked with a President or two and many movie personalities. There were letters of appreciation from many of these people. I still can’t believe how she was able to look at a garment in a store, go home and duplicate it exactly. No pattern, she just did it.

Interestingly enough with all this talent and attention, Nana was very modest. Her home furnishings were simple and she did not know the word pretentious.

Nana was forever putting money into the Pishka (a small box for the purpose of collecting charity) that sat upon the kitchen counter. Once full, the funds were delivered to the proper organization, there was the Jewish Federation, Cancer Society, The Blind, The Appellation Mission and too numerous others to mention.

Shortly before I was to wed, Nana was in a terrible car accident. She insisted that no one was to worry, she would recoup. She had to keep her promise to me, of making my wedding gown and seeing me get married. She did it all. She got better, made not only my gown but my trousseau as well and danced at my wedding. One of my most treasured photos of Nana is of the two of us on my wedding day, prior to leaving the house. Nana and I sitting side by side on the sofa; from the photo it’s difficult to say who is beaming more.

Nana took ill when I was in my late 20’s; it was my time to give love unconditionally. Nana came to live with me and my family and though much of the time it was difficult, there was something that made it all worth while. In the evenings when I’d help Nana retire, I would go to Nana’s bedside to make sure all was well and say goodnight, she’d look up at me and say “you are such a dear, thank you for taking care of me, I love you.” As I sit here writing, tears come to my eyes, for there was more love and sincerity in those moments than some people get to experience in an entire life time.

Funerals involve mourners being dutiful and uncomfortable, doing their best, approaching the family with the usual words of sympathy, such as “I’m sorry for your loss “. In earnest it can be said, that was not the case at Nana’s funeral. The words directed to me were contrary to the typical. Literally each person I spoke with said “I loved your grandmother”. So when it’s all said and done. . .

Love is all that matters. Love is all that remains. Nana knew that!