Dorothy H. Richardson died January 3, 2017. We called her Nana. She was born in 1914, and Thursday would have been her 103rd birthday. Longevity runs through the maternal line; her mother - my great-grandmother, called Grammie by my generation - died several weeks before she turned 102. They had the usual mother-daughter tensions, and I sometimes thought Nana wanted to live longer than Grammie just to say she had.
Nana had a way of doing things throughout her life that were givens. Fresh flowers on the table was one of them. My husband made a big impression on her when he met her for the first time, using the best flowers from my aunt's Christmas arrangement and mixing them with new flowers from the florist to create the centerpiece for dinner. She was struck by several things, not least of which was his ability and willingness to do this.
Age and illness had taken their toll on Nana. She'd been living in an assisted living facility for the past several years after leaving Hospice care. At the time, she and her doctor thought she was close to the end. She entered Hospice, went off all her meds, and got better. The decision to leave was mutual: Hospice had a policy that precluded extended stays, and Nana was getting depressed seeing the friends she made while she lived there dying.
When she turned 100, we surprised her at lunch on her birthday. Both of her children, all of her grandchildren, and a couple of her great-grandchildren were there, and she Face-Timed with a great-grandchild and her only (at the time) great-great-grandchild. She wasn't up for a long visit and went back to her room after a short time, overwhelmed by the number of people celebrating what she hadn't considered to be a big accomplishment.
Fast forward to the week before Christmas 2016. She decided she would leave on her own terms, and made the decision to stop eating. My mother was scheduled to go to New Hampshire January 4, but her brother called the week before to say she needed to come sooner. Mom flew up to NH from the family gathered for the holiday in Jacksonville, Florida. She visited with Nana for a couple of days before the morphine that eased her pain ended conversation. Nana died a short time later.
She liked her tea, and her teapot is below. My mother brought it back from New Hampshire to St. Louis, and gave it to me when I was in St. Louis two weeks ago. Not wanting it to break if I carried it on the airplane, I opted to have FedEx deliver it.
I haven't used it yet - I know she's gone, but I feel like the first time I use it will reinforce her absence. For now, I have it on the counter as a reminder of my proper grandmother who sent thank you notes, wore scarves around her neck almost daily, and loved her tea.