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Nana. A tribute to my Mother In Law

When I married my first wife, Jo Ellen, I married her family. Indeed, they took me in right away. Wayne and Elsie were parents to me as well as Hunter and Jo Ellen. They were good people. I use the past tense because, except for Hunter, they are no longer with us. It is with great sadness that I have to say that Elsie passed away on June 8.

She had been hospitalized for several days due to a head injury, something she has experienced in the past. This time, however, the injury was too severe and, in addition to the brain swelling, there was bleeding as well. Family and friends were gathered at the hospital when Elsie took her last breath. Some were in the room with her and some were waiting in a waiting area. My son and wife were in a waiting room, the sight of Chase’s grandmother was a bit much for him. She wasn’t looking good and, frankly, reminded both of us of how his mother looked some five years ago when she passed away. In fact, the day Elsie died was just one day after the fifth anniversary of my late wife’s death.

Elsie1Elsie was a unique lady. She was frank at times, but was Grandma all the way. She loved all of her grandchildren (who could never do anything wrong) and adored her son and daughter. She treated her extended family as if they were part of hers. Still, if she didn’t think you were doing something right, she would definitely let you know. She could also heap praise if she thought it was due. No matter, if you needed help, she and Wayne were right there. Afterwards, of course, she would have to tell you what you did wrong. And remind you, years later. It’s one of the things that made her who she was and I think that was part of her charm.

She was also naive about many things and was, shall we say, easily embarrassed. That was fun. Say something remotely naughty and she got that five year old ‘I’m caught’ look. Lips puckered and three fingers trying to hide her surprise. Bodily sounds would always draw that same look, no matter who was at ‘fault’. That was one household where that was a genuine laugh. Part of the naivety, however, was that she also gullible–which was also fun. When Jo Ellen found out she was pregnant, we went to tell her parents. She is sitting there, telling Elsie how excited she was and Elsie says ‘well, how far along are you?’ We didn’t know for sure, but when she started talking about dates, I looked up and said ‘WAIT! I was out of town that weekend!’ Elsie, not missing a beat, says ‘JO ELLEN! You should be ashamed…’ then she realized I was messing with her and, well, I didn’t know Elsie had quite the punch.

And, so, this day, we buried Nana, Mom,  Elsie and any number of nicknames she had.  As we sat there, listening to the minister, I had to wonder, ‘what would Elsie think?’  I think she’d be happy to see her family and closest of friends, I also think she’d like Hunter’s choice of ministers. She’d be happy to know how we felt about her.  She’d be happy about many things. But, in typical Nana fashion, she’d turn to Hunter and say ‘why did you do this on such a hot day? I mean, really!’ Yep. That was our Nana.

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