Farewell Nancy Mae

I know she can hear me…

Her eyes closed, pressed into drug induced coma.  The air from the oxygen clashing with the rattling rasp coming from her throat.         The death rattle.  I recognize it.

So much I want to say but as I go to speak my words catch and my eyes well and the words cannot tumble out without the crashing of tears inhibiting my sentiments.

So I stay silent.

She taught me to be a woman.  A good woman.

A good wife, calming and agreeable.  No matter what grandpa says, even if it is terribly obvious that she knows that bit of information, she looks grateful and sweet and nods.  Everything he says is fascinating.  Ever caring, every meal made with love, every thing taken care of for him.  The looks they share.  A love affair of seventy-something years.  To be a wife like that.

A good mother, adoring and loving.  Her children make up the fiber of her essence and she would have done-or did do- anything to help them.  Across the miles or next door, her love for them never failed.

A good grandmother, ever supportive and beloved.  Beloved.  Cookies in the cookie jar and hot coffee at the ready.  Even if we were six years old.  Always there for us.  Always cheering us on.  Like we were the most important people in the world.  Grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great grandmother.  She has lived a life of loving.  I think she waited until my second granddaughter, Ayla Mae, was born a few months ago, on their 70th wedding anniversary.

Every piece in me she filled, that of mother, grandmother, friend.

There was room in her house for anyone who needed a place to stay.  Always ready with a handout or a smile.  Her generosity extended endlessly.

She taught me to sew, to crochet, to cook eggs.  Every Tuesday for years as an adult I would pick her up and we would go to IHOP or a new restaurant (usually IHOP though, she loved the pancakes) and then shopping.  We talked about anything and everything.

She grew up on a farm.  She married a dashing cowboy at the age of sixteen.  Grandpa.  She was a waitress for many years because, in her words, she had nice legs.  Oh my goodness, I will miss that woman.

I know she can hear me.

Goodbye Grandma.

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Grandma and Grandpa used to take me and my cousin, Helen on many fun adventures.

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My first crocheted blanket that Grandma taught me to make.
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My grandparents with their great, great granddaughters. So much to be thankful for. A life well lived.

Nancy Mae Horner

May 26, 1932-February 18, 2009

How a Farmgirl Got Her Groove Back

The sun peers over the edge of the horizon shedding light on a new day.  The rose colors dash through the maple tree and dance on the floor of our walkout basement apartment in the country.  It is as if we were eighteen again.  We have a studio apartment with a wood cook stove, microwave, and mini-fridge.  We have use of the shower and kitchen upstairs.  We help out around here in exchange for very low rent.  I cook meals.  I walk the grounds and hear the birds.  I try to figure out if the scat near my favorite trees to sit under is bear or raccoon.  I go to my shop where my granddaughter helps me make medicines.  Doug enjoys his job.  My heart is most recently repaired.

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Words of loved ones kept echoing in my mind and I knew I had to do something.  “Are you sure you are okay?”  “Are you losing weight?”  “I can’t believe anyone could take your voice.”  “Your heart is so wounded.  You need to repair that before you can move on with what your journey holds.”  “I know,” I whispered.

Time does heal.  A year ago we sat in our homestead on the prairie, tears in my eyes because of the cold.  My animals were freezing as were we.  There is blessed heat here.  Two wood stoves, an electric heater, central heating in the house, and a warm shop.  I heard goats yelling from across the street.  I wandered down the long driveway to catch sight of them.  Screaming, as they do, from an enclosed shed they waited impatiently for their morning meal.  I laughed and found myself happy I didn’t have farm chores to do that very cold morning.  I walked in the house for another cup of coffee.  Doug chops wood for the fire.  I am sure we will have animals in the future.  I transplanted five Jerusalem artichoke roots from Aunt Donna’s house here.  I’ll plant garlic.  We should be here to harvest them but if for some reason unforeseen I cannot, I enjoy planting them all the same.  A buck passes the window.  Big floppy ears.  I wish he allowed hugs.  The frost melts as the sun hits it.  The alpacas next door slowly making their way through the pasture.  It is magical here.

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I went to our favorite hiking place.  I went alone.  I chose rocks.  I put two on the east side of the small circle I was creating.  I put one in the south.  One in the west.  One in the north.  Three in the middle for Father Sky, Mother Earth, and the Ceremonial fire.  I offered tobacco to the Creator.  Sprinkled cedar for the spirits and my ancestors.  I offered sage.  I placed a larger rock symbolizing my heart in the south where childlike wonder and fun reigns.  I released the harsh words told to me that made me quit writing.  I released the loss of our things and our lifestyle and embraced the now and the lesson and journey we are on.  I released my broken heart.  An eagle flew over the valley as I sat there.  I breathed in the fresh air of life and smiled.