Monday, February 7, 2011

A Bittersweet Tribute

Hello friends and family,

I come to you from a bittersweet place today. As many of you know, my grandmother "Nanny", Joyce McNally passed away on Sunday morning. I'd like to start with the best part of Nanny's death; she now lives! I am sure for those family and friends living closer to her, the blessing of her passing rings even louder, as you have seen her suffering first hand. I know, without a doubt, that Nanny is in heaven, probably talking everyone's ears off and correcting them on how to cook a turkey so that it's REALLY done. Our family rejoices in knowing that Nanny's new heavenly body now matches the beautiful spirit that has been trapped in a pained, scarred, bruised, and disfigured body for so many years.

However, even with all of the joy that I feel in my heart for HER, we, those left behind, will never be the same. We mourn OUR loss, but celebrate her gain. I've been trying to think of a way to explain my grandmother to those who didn't know her. The best description is actually an illustration of the loving, selfless person that she was up to the last day she spent on this earth. Around Thanksgiving, Nanny went into cardiac arrest and "coded". When she was brought back, she was unable to breathe on her own for several days. Once she woke up and was able to identify some of what was going on around her, it was a blessing for us because we realized she recognized us, but horribly painful for her as she was awake and intubated for quite some time.

Every few hours, someone from the Respiratory Department would come in and clean out Nanny's lungs. Needless to say, it was not a very pleasant experience for her. On one particular occasion, a young Respiratory Therapist came in the room to begin the procedure, and it was obvious Nanny was in serious discomfort throughout. The young therapist continually apologized to Nanny for her suffering, and looked deeply distrought at the thought of hurting her. With all of the strength Nanny had left in her frail body, she, noticing the guilt and burden the girl was feeling, lifted her hand off the bed, clasped the therapist's hand, and pulled it to her own lips for a kiss as an offering of love and understanding of the situation. As if to say, "It's not your fault, I understand."

There are so many things I could say about my grandmother, but I feel that the above story describes the way Nanny lived her life; totally and completely for others. And so Nanny, this is for you. A public testiment to how much you have been, and always will be loved. I found the recipe for your famous Linzer Tart cookies today. You hand wrote it for me a few years back. I decided the best way for me to honor you was to bake them. This was my first time, they always looked so hard...and they really kind of were complicated. They're a little lopsided, and I wasted more dough than you would have accepted, but I made them for you nonetheless.

Thank you Nanny for giving me my love of animals, my love of helping others, my sense of humor, my brown eyes, my love of baking, my singing voice, and for leaving me with the best family I could imagine. I love you always.

Your Girl


  1. Cindy Journell-HochFebruary 7, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    Emily, that was beautiful. the story of the respitory therapist made me cry...tears of joy...for the beautiful woman she was!
    I love ya sweetie!

  2. Thank you. Love you too. I hope things are getting better with your family. <3

  3. Your tribute is beautiful--I am so sorry for your loss.

  4. wonderful ! thanks for using your talents for the benefit of others. pop

  5. This was an amazing post. I'm sorry for your loss of a loved one. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thank you, Gigi. That means a lot.