My Nana

She would have been 97 on Sunday, and I was certain she would live to 100 and beyond. She was that sharp, that bright and alert, and that alive. My nana was born in 1914, long before telephones, Blackberries or iPhones, the internet,  and most of the other modern inventions that are the norm to us. She lived through two World Wars, a Depression that hit her small Pennsylvania town, really crippling it forever. She was the mom of four, nana to eleven, and great-nana to nineteen. She was the wife of a coal miner and restaurant owner who left us long ago, 29 years last month, and I can imagine how much she missed her husband. My very first thought when I heard on Wednesday night that she had left us, was of her walking and taking his hand, and that actually filled me with peace. When I close my eyes, I can see my grandfather smiling.


My nana taught us to bake, to garden, to cook. She washed her face with oatmeal, resulting in soft, flawless skin until her last days. When I saw an article in Self magazine about washing your face with oatmeal as a groundbreaking new move, I laughed. Nana had been doing it for probably eight decades or more. She also ate garlic and drank apple cider vinegar like it was no thing. She believed in the power of natural remedies and good food, and well, I would say that living until almost 97 and being completely healthy for most of it, she was on to something.

She was a hilarious, sharp-witted (sometimes too much so) woman who had seen a lot including intense poverty over the years, but she was resourceful, and loving to me and my sister, our husbands, and my niece and nephew. She  was up on current events and could talk and talk when it came to politics, religion, and family. My memories of her are from when I am little, baking potato bread, sleeping in the bed with her and being terrified when she said “holy ghost” instead of “holy spirit” at the end of her prayers, making real cranberry sauce, and walking through her long gardens in the small Pennsylvania town she lived in. In later years, she moved to North Carolina with my aunt, and we visited for holidays, eating her from-scratch everything, went to the bingo hall (and won big!). Most recently, I got to spend a lot of time with my nana as she moved to New Jersey, where I got to visit her about every other month. I made an effort to see her every chance I could, each time grateful that I had that visit. I truly treated each visit like it was our last, because life is never a certainty, but when you roll into your 90′s it definitely becomes a little more uncertain. The above photo is from the last time I saw her. Wheelchair-bound for a number of years, she wanted a photo of herself standing up, so my husband supported her as she stood for this photo. To me it is as though this is how she wanted to be remembered.  I will be forever grateful that we skipped our friends’ post-wedding brunch to visit her and to see that smile. Her skin was the softest I have ever felt, and my lasting memory is of laughing together.

My nana leaves behind so much warmth and love.  I get to wrap myself in afghans she made and in love that she has left behind, to make nourishing home-cooked food and serve it in bowls she used in her own home, and to live on knowing how loved I have been. They certainly don’t make people like her anymore, and she will be missed.

Many of you have been so supportive during the past few weeks when things with my nana were uncertain. Thank you.

  1. Renee {Eat.LiveBlog}’s avatar

    Oh Meghan, I am so sorry for your loss. But you are one of the lucky ones who got to spend a lifetime with such an amazing person. All my thoughts to you and your family.


  2. Elizabeth’s avatar

    Meghan, what a lovely tribute to your Nana. She truly sounds like a remarkable woman. All my best to you and your family in the coming days.


  3. Michelle’s avatar

    Meghan, thinking of you during this difficult time. Sending you all of my love. I am here if you need anything.


  4. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

    I’m very sorry for your loss. Hugs and prayers to you.


  5. Jean | Delightful Repast’s avatar

    I am so sorry, Meghan. What a sweet (and remarkably youthful) face your nana had! My grandmothers were more important to me than I can express, and I’m always so excited to find someone who feels such love for her grandmother as you. I’ll be thinking of you during this difficult time.


  6. betsy’s avatar

    So sorry for your loss, Meghan.


  7. Karen’s avatar

    Meghan, I’m so sorry for your loss. My best to you and your family.


  8. Daisy’s avatar

    this brought tears to my eyes, it was such a beautiful tribute to a very special woman. loved reading every single word. thinking of you lots. xo


  9. Megan’s avatar

    Meghan, I’m so, so sorry to hear about your nana. She sounds like a grandma anyone would be lucky to have. Your post is making me all teary-eyed. My thoughts are with you and your family. I hope you guys get down to PA safely (and hassle-free). Sending hugs and lots of love!


  10. Erica @ Boston Rookie’s avatar

    Sorry for your loss. This brought tears to my eyes- hearing all the stories about her. What a big smile on her face in that pictures. Thanks for sharing. Sending my best to you and your family.


  11. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite’s avatar

    Meghan, I am so sorry for your loss. I bet your Nana was proud of you. What a lovely tribute :) Hugs XOX


  12. Michelle Collins’s avatar

    This is such a beautiful post – your Nana sounds like such a wonderful woman. So sorry to hear about your loss.


  13. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

    Meghan, what a beautiful tribute to your Nana. I have tears from reading it. My condolences go out to you and your family. It sounds like your Nana was such a lovely woman and I know that her warmth and love will stay with you forever. Take care. *BIG HUG*


  14. Shani’s avatar

    She sounds like a wonderful woman to know. Best wishes to you and your family in your time of loss.


  15. Lindsay’s avatar

    Meghan, this was such a beautiful post to a woman that meant so much to you. I hope that you are comforted by all of those amazing memories. I too derive peace from thoughts of my grandparents being happily together in renewed bodies somewhere much better than this world. Strength to you and your family during a difficult time.


  16. Kim’s avatar

    meghan, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. im so sorry for your loss; nana sounds like a wonderful person.


  17. Raija’s avatar

    A truly beautiful tribute to your Nana – the only thing I disagree with is that “they don’t make people like her in this world anymore”…I think they do — YOU! xoxo


  18. andrea’s avatar

    Dear Meghan…I just read of your Nana’s passing. I agree with Ralja…you are cast in your Nana’ spirit so please do not change. As a “Nana”, I can only hope that I am remembered as completely and tenderly as you remember yours, cooking and all. Gives us all something to work for! Thank you for sharing your memories. XOXO


  19. Charlene’s avatar

    I’m just catching up on your blog now having been away for a few days. I want to send you and your family my condolences. Your tribute came from the heart and it’s clear she was very dear to you. Wishing you and your family all the best.


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      Thank you so much! :)


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