Monthly Archives: March 2009

Until there’s no one to remember you

Korey and Justin lost their Nanny last week and I lost someone who, thinking back, was a great, generous gift to me. 

Brian called me on a Friday night to let me know she was gone. The kids were asleep by then and we decided to tell them together in the morning. Morning came, and with my secret bulging from my heart, I tried to keep them calm and relaxed, knowing what they were in for. Justin, for some reason, wanted to pull out all of the Hallowe’en stuff, especially this motion-sensored tombstone with hands that crawl up and down while exclaiming, “I’m not dead yet, let me out of here.” He said he wanted to scare Daddy. I encouraged him that it probably wasn’t the best day to do this. “Oh,  because Nanny is sick and going to die?” he asked. I just nodded.

The night before, at dinner, Justin said that Nanny had to go into this thing called a coma and she wasn’t going to wake up. Korey was defiant, “Yes she will, you stupid idiot. She’ll wake up again. What are you talking about?” And then he turned away, very angry at his little brother for suggesting such a thing. With his heart breaking, he asked me if that was true. I told him that she might not but she might, we don’t really know. She did actually wake up briefly just before she passed away.

We sat them down Saturday morning and Brian explained what had happened. Justin started to cry immediately. Korey remained quiet and then said he wanted to get on the computer and asked if he could change his password to Nanny. That broke the floodgates and he sobbed uncontrollably for about 10 minutes. But, they both said they still wanted to go to the funeral, which we had talked about in preparing them.

After assessing the clothes required for the service, I was on duty to get new shoes for Korey and a tie for Justin. He wasn’t sure if he wanted a bow tie or a long tie, nor did he really comprehend the difference. But, he felt a long tie would be better. “Just about down to here,” he said, motioning to his belly button.

On Sunday night, I stopped in to see my nephew and his wife who were expecting a baby. She was so ready to deliver and with her due date on Tuesday, I wanted to see if I could help with a massage or some therapeutic touch. She had spent the day roaming the RV show trying to get things going and well, the combination worked. At midnight her water broke and she called me at 7:30 in the morning to say she was 4cm dilated. At 8:49 Nora was born. A healthy baby girl, one day early.

I picked up the boys after work and we went to meet her. Justin decided to wear his new tie for Nora. He also chose one of his favourite toys to give her, a Sesame Street Fisher Price camper. In the hospital he said that he was sad that his Nanny died but the baby helped. During his bathroom time he explained that, “Laurie’s in the hospital but she’ll be going home, cause she isn’t sick. My Nanny was sick, but she didn’t get to go home.” I nodded that he was right.

He then said to my sister, “Did you see my name in the news? Do you know why it was there? Cause my Nanny died. When you die they always put your name in the news.” He was talking about the obituary which Brian had cut out of the paper the day before.

The day of the funeral, I got them all dressed up to go and their Dad picked them up. Little troopers. I didn’t sit with the family but from 4 rows back I could hear Korey sobbing and choking on his tears. It broke my heart. Afterward, Korey wanted to leave straight away. He was too upset to attend the reception. I loaded them into the car and asked if there was anything that would help. Lego was the medicine. They picked out some LegoRacers at the local drug store and we were on our way. I strapped Justin in and closed the door. As I walked around the back of the car, I could hear him screaming and looked to see his hand jammed solidly in the top of the door. He was ok though, nothing broken nor bruised. 

The boys changed their minds about going to the committal service with their Dad and we joined them later at the family gathering. Brian thanked me for being there, saying it would have meant a lot to his mother. She was devastated when we separated, worried so much about the kids and how they would fare. But Brian and I always put them first. We have a good relationship and the ability to work together to ensure they are safe and secure. Brian always tells them that even though we don’t live together, we are still a family and we take care of each other.

I had the rest of the week off for March Break and Korey had a hockey tournament. We got an extra game on Thursday morning and he scored his very first goal— on defence, from the blueline. We watched the video last night and you can hear the coach yelling, “Put it in deep Korey.” And then you can see the puck going toward the net, but the camera didn’t actually catch the goal, nor Korey’s reaction. He said he fell as soon as he shot it. His teammates were all excited, “Korey scored. Way to go Korey. Great shot!”  What a proud moment. His friend Josh also got his first goal in the same game.  It is very true that any hockey is good hockey as long as it’s evenly matched. Watching these 7 year olds live or on video is just as exciting as an NHL game, in my opinion.

After the game, we went to the canteen and there were lots of people sitting around waiting for games to begin. My BlackBerry pinged and I chose to respond to a message from work. The kids were running around. I told them to stop running.  A few minutes later a gaggle of kids had joined them in their running game. I got up to tell them to stop and when I went to take a step, I tripped over my feet, or the chair or something and landed on my knees on the tile floor— the rest of me landing face first with my arms stretched out overhead. I could hear myself saying as I was going down, “I told you to stop running.” I’ll never forget the look on this little girl’s face before they all scurried off.  My demon BlackBerry slid across the floor, almost going under a vending machine. I lay there in pain for a few seconds, unable to get up and then trying my best not to cry, I limped back to my seat, feigned the “f” word and resumed my message. I apologized to the parents sitting there (who didn’t even try to help me, by the way, mighty neighbourly) and held back my tears. The kids resumed their running elsewhere. I then wobbled outside full of pain and embarrassment. My sister had a good laugh when she got back to the canteen and the kids told her what happened. One guy who witnessed it couldn’t contain himself and laughed right along with them.

That was the same day,  in the middle of a happy moment, when Justin stopped short, turned to me and with a very perplexing look, said “You know Mommy when someone dies, it’s like it really didn’t happen. Like the person who told you was lying. But then you know it’s true.” I told him that was a very good way to explain it.

I also told them that it is normal to cry when they think about their Nanny being gone, but as time passes, there will be less tears and more smiles when they remember her.

My kids will never forget their Nanny. They loved her so much. “I still have two Nannies. One is in real life and one is in my heart,” says Justin.  I think his Dad told him that.

I’m learning a lot from my kids. I enjoy their honesty and let them talk, cry, get angry and just be quiet. Whatever they need at the moment. But one thing I won’t let them do is forget how important she was and how she’ll always be part of them.

What a busy week. Today is my reward. I’m still in my jammies and it’s almost time for bed again. I think I deserve it and a trip away in a couple weeks to visit a friend.

The big difference

Something keeps gnawing at me. Whenever I see those anniversary wishes for people who have been married, say 50 years or more, I’m always quick to retort that they probably haven’t spoken to each other for the last 20. I’ve been saying this since I was a teenager and I don’t know why. My parents were only ever married to each other and most of my friends came from two-parent families…some of them still very much in love, on the outside anyway…see, there’s that gnawing pessimism again.

So it came to me one day. There are two kinds of marriages:  mutual commitments and partnerships. The commitment-based marriages seem to last longer. The partnerships faulter due to lack of understanding, differing expectations and independent agendas.

Next time, I want one of those commitment-based marriages. The ones that feature unconditional love and support, no matter what (with the exception of abuse in any form).