Last month Judah and I took a last-minute trip to England for a very sad reason... my Nanny passed away. She had been unwell for a long time, several years really. There have been quite a few occasions when we thought the end was near, but she always rallied... so even though I knew it was unlikely that she would get better this time, I just always kind of thought she would. Because she's Nanny and she never gives up! Nanny was never one to be discouraged or downcast. She was always cheerful, although she suffered greatly for years and by the end of her life she could hardly move, riddled with painful arthritis and terrible sores on her legs. She was in hospital for a raging infection and caught hospital pneumonia on top of it all. Her earthly body gave up the good fight. She went home to heaven in the early hours on March 11th, a month ago today... finally free from her broken and suffering body.
Although we grew up in Africa and Nanny was in England, I never felt like she was far away. She sent us a constant stream of letters and cards and packages. We made home videos and sent them back to her. She was always very interested in our lives, and loved getting phone calls, letters, and pictures. She always remembered details like our favorite sweets and chocolates. She prayed for us constantly. We (speaking for myself and my brothers) all hated leaving Africa to spend our furloughs in England every 4 years, but we LOVED arriving at Nanny's house to big hugs and laughter, singing, roast dinners, tea & toast, and her cupboard of never-ending treats. Nanny was our home-away-from-home.
I am thankful for the hope that I have of seeing her again in heaven, but it is strange still to think of her no longer on this earth. She was one of the few permanent things in my often transitional childhood. No matter where we moved or how long we were gone, Nanny was always there to welcome us home.
Nanny never forgot a birthday, and never let an occasion go by without writing a letter or a card. When I got to England, my mom handed me a birthday card Nanny had written for Judah's first birthday but hadn't gotten the chance to send it off before she went into hospital.
The trip to England was bittersweet. It was a time to say goodbye to Nanny, and to her house that has been a home to us for my whole life. But it was also a time to celebrate Nanny's life and her legacy. And a time for Judah to see his grandparents, which happens rarely, and to meet his uncles for the very first time, as well as our cousins and aunts and uncles. It was nice to have Judah around, because toddlers are a never ending source of comic relief. I know Nanny would have been thrilled that her whole family... children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren... came together with much laughter and remembering to celebrate her life.
The following pictures are some of my favorites from our time together. Most of them are on facebook already, but I wanted to record them here as well.
First time together since Judah was born.
Lots of good family catch up time
Lots of looking at classic pictures from the various generations.
Four of the six siblings... it was hard to get them all in the same place at the same time with everything going on!
Judah had lots of attention!
We made the most of our time as a family.
We had a big (for England) snowstorm, and Judah was fascinated with it.
Then he realized it was cold and wet and would prefer to watch it from inside, thankyouverymuch :)
Saying bye bye to Nana at the airport.
This about describes our trip home... hyper and excited Judah! With a tired momma chasing him around.
It was a whirlwind trip, very bittersweet, but I'm so glad we were able to go.