Me with my sister and Nana on a train caboose in 1989.

Dear Nana

Author’s note: My maternal grandmother, Dorothy Elizabeth Pope, died of ovarian cancer in 1997. She never got to see me as an adult, or meet her great-grandchildren. I miss her terribly and every so often something will happen, or I’ll see something that will remind me of her and I’ll think “I wish Nana could be here to see this. She would have liked that.” This is a collection of those thoughts. (Originally posted March 2014, updated September 4, 2018.)

Dear Nana,

Did you know I learned to crochet? When I sit with a new skein of yarn and work up something new and unique, I think of you. Of all of the needlepoint and quilting and embroidery you did over the years. I think, ‘I bet Nana would be proud of me and think it’s cool that I am doing something creative with my hands.’ We would have loved going yarn shopping together!

Hannah's sewing project
Hannah modeling the flannel pajama bottoms she made herself in sewing class.

Nana, did you hear that Hannah learned to sew? And Daniel and Olivia too. Oh you would have loved the little pillow alien Daniel made in art class, or the pillow cases the girls made. They are so talented and have even made clothes from a pattern! You would be so proud. 

Nana, did you know all of that Barbie furniture you made me when I was little? Well I saved it all and my kids have been playing with it for years. All of those hours you spent, focusing on every little detail to make canopy beds, refrigerators, pool tables, kitchen appliances, and even tiny clocks and ice cream sundaes. It was so worth it! A new generation has received hours of joy and imaginative play thanks to your hard work. And when they play with it, I tell them about you. They ask me questions and I recount stories. If they ever had the chance to meet you in person, they’d really love spending time with you. 

Needlepoint Barbie furniture
Daniel and Olivia getting ready to play with the Barbie furniture you made.

Dear Nana, would you be surprised to hear my kids love your tuna and noodle casserole? Probably not, since Vanessa and I always asked for it when we were kids. Every time I make it I think of you. And recently, when Vanessa was recovering from surgery I made  her your meatballs and beans dish!  It didn’t turn out as good as yours, but it’s the only thing she requested, and we sat on her couch eating it together and it felt like home. I wish you were here to teach me your recipes. I remember how every summer we came to visit and on our first day you would always say “I’m going to the grocery store, what would you girls like to eat while you’re here?” No one ever planned an entire week’s worth of meals around what we wanted. That made me feel so important.

Nana
My beautiful Nana when she was in her early-twenties.

Nana, Did you know that I’m writing? You always encouraged my writing because you were a writer, too. You knew what it meant to have that calling deep in your soul. A few years ago mom found a copy of a manuscript you had written and gave it to me. But I can’t bring myself to read it because as long as I have it safely stored in my office, I still have something of you yet to be discovered, a moment to share — just the two of us. But I’m afraid once it’s read, that will be it. There will be nothing new left of you, only memories.

Nana – Did you know that sometimes I come across something with your handwriting, a card, back of a photograph, letter, and I start to cry. Did you know how hard it would be on the ones you left behind to not have you here with us anymore? Did you know how long we would mourn? I bet you did. You knew loss.

Dear Nana, I know we’ll see each other again one day. So save me a spot next to your recliner, and maybe a few skeins of yarn. We will have a lot of catching up to do.

Love,

Jelise

4 thoughts on “Dear Nana”

  1. Omg! I’m sitting on my couch weeping uncontrollably while reading all of these amazing memories and thoughts about our Nana. Thank you, big sister. 🙂

  2. I finally found this post. I had missed it before. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. With every sentence I could see it as if it were happening in front of me right here, right now. She had an impact on a lot of people. I can only hope I have a similar legacy.

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