It’s Friday, so it’s time for Seven Quick Takes, hosted by Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum. I haven’t been blogging much because just after our week in Florida, the Lovely Nana passed away. I spent all of last week getting ready to leave for New Jersey for the funeral, plus try to get some school work done with the kids, and I haven’t really blogged much on account of it all. I spent last weekend in Jersey seeing cousins and aunts and uncles and remembering The Lovely Nana. Even though I wrote a post honoring her just before she died, I wanted to dedicate this Seven Quick Takes to her.
This is The Lovely Nana’s graduation picture. She graduated in December of her senior year, just two months after she had turned 17. She was one smart cookie!
When she met my grandfather at a dance, she met him as a part of a group of boys, including this handsome Irish boy named Tommy. I think Grandpa fell for her immediately (and when you look at that picture, can you blame him?), but when Nana’s friend asked her what she thought of the shy boy named Andrew, she said, “All I really like about him is his last name. LaCour! But I really think that Tommy is cute!”
She went to the YMCA not long after that dance to watch the boys’ swim team practice, and she saw this young man swimming lap after lap after lap after lap. He never seemed to slow down or get tired. Impressed with his athleticism, she asked her friend, “Who is that?!” and got the answer: That’s the boy with the nice last name. (My grandfather was quite the athlete!) Tommy never really had a chance after that.
For their first date, my grandfather took Nana to Manhattan to see a movie at Radio City Music Hall (they lived in The Bronx). When they got there, something had just started on the big screen. Peeking in, my grandmother said, “Oh, it’s just the kids’ cartoon. No big deal.”
“Oh, no!” said her date. “That’s the movie we’re here to see!”
Who takes a girl to see a cartoon on a date!? thought my grandmother. She was swept off her feet at the movie, though.
Grandpa had taken her to see Walt Disney’s Snow White.
When it came out on video, we bought her a copy for Christmas.
The Lovely Nana’s father had come from Annalong, Ireland, and was actually Protestant. Nana’s mother was Catholic, and when she was 18, Nana officially converted to the Catholic Faith. She and Grandpa raised six children in the faith, and after Grandpa passed away 20 years ago, her oldest son took her to Annalong to see Ireland for the first time and to find the house her father had been born in. They located the house (after being asked several times, “And what would you be needing to know that for?”), as well as cousins never-met who all invited them to stay with them for the duration of their time in Ireland. It was interesting to hear that many people remembered my great-grandfather as “Robert Haugh who went to America.”
On Sunday morning, Nana asked her cousin for the times for Mass at the local Catholic Church. “And what would you be needing that for?” she was asked. When she explained that she was Catholic, there was surprise, and her cousin called her Catholic friend to ask for the times.
The friend asked, “And what would you be needing to know that for?” When told that my grandmother was Catholic, the answer came, “Imagine! Robert Haugh’s daughter’s a Catholic!” (Once this formality of information-gathering was complete, Mass times were dispensed and Nana was able to attend Mass.)
I mentioned in my post about Nana that she traveled a lot. Grandpa didn’t like to travel, but did so for big events like graduations and weddings. (He was alive for my wedding and traveled from New Jersey to Florida for the event.) When he passed away, Nana took to traveling more often, visiting her grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the country. She came to my daughters’ First Communions, flying alone, and celebrated with us. She did this until shortly before she moved in with my parents three years ago.
Nana was one of the most generous people I knew, and many stories were told at her viewing that confirmed this. When her mother had dementia, she took her in along with her sister, Margie. She did this in spite of already raising a large family, and cared for both of them until they passed away. She would insist on paying for part of our travel expenses when we went to visit her, and if we admired anything in her home, she would want us to take it. It made her happy to give people things and to care for them. It was no surprise that she became a certified EMT and volunteered on the ambulance squad for 25 years when she and Grandpa retired to Holiday City, or that when she was unable to do that any longer due to the beginnings of her dementia, she volunteered at the hospital, cheering people up in the ER waiting room and attending to people’s needs. She was an EMHC who brought Holy Communion to the homebound in her community. When she was still able to drive, she would pick up several friends on her way to Mass each week.
Nana was Catholic to the last. For her 90th birthday, I had a friend get a Rosary in Rome and have it blessed by the pope. She was thrilled with it, though she had already started to forget how to pray the Rosary on her own. I now have her Rosary, and have been using it as my primary set. She was surrounded by Our Lady throughout her life, and she was surrounded by her at her death. My parents and my father’s older brother and his wife were at her bedside on the evening of January 20, when Mom said they should pray a Rosary for her. Everyone sensed the time was near, and she hadn’t been conscious for days. My family prayed a Rosary for her, holding her hand, stroking her hair, kissing her cheek. As the final “Amen” was said, The Lovely Nana relaxed, breathed her last, took Jesus’ hand and let Him lead her Home, where her husband and daughter waited for her with open arms.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her always. May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, in the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.