Monday, March 7, 2011

Nana: A Portrait of a Lady

On February 13, 2011 at 2:30 in the morning, my grandmother passed away.   She was beautiful and I miss her very much.   We called her Nana, but growing up, she was Audrey Mae Cloutier.  Audrey was an only child and was a very dainty, delicate person.   She was very meticulous about her appearance and her person.  She never did anything halfway.  She was a sweet, serious sort of person who was balanced out by her spunky, outspoken, mischievous best friend, Grace.

After she graduated from high school, she got a job where she met Jimmie.  Jimmie was one of two of Audrey's beaus and she liked him a lot.  He used to sit out on the porch and sings songs to her, including "You Were Meant for Me" from singing in the rain.  Once, when Jimmie came by to see Audrey, he found that she was out with the other beau, but Grace was there to tell him, "You've been teaching her songs and she's out singing 'em to another fella." 

Jimmie was furious and called on Audrey again shortly after that to say, "Audrey, if I can get everything together by tomorrow[which was Lundi Gras], will you marry me?"  Not really thinking he would be able to manage it, Audrey said yes.  They were married the next day.  Audrey and Jimmie had a wonderful life together with their four children, James Jr. (my dad), Arthur, Gayle, and Myles.  They were married for over fifty years.

On July 17, 1992, Jimmie died from cancer. He was 81 years old.  Audrey was devastated.  For nearly a year, she wallowed in grief, putting her entire life on hold.  After a couple of years eldest son, Jimmy, packed up his family and moved them down the country to live with Audrey while they built their new house.  We lived that way for a year.  Nana in one room, Mom and Dad in another, and the five kids in the third room.  It was during that year, that Nana tripped over a lamp chord in her bedroom and broke her hip.   She had surgery to replace her hip, but Dad decided that living near Nana was not enough, so he added a room, a handicap accessible bathroom, and a private phone line to the house for Nana to come live with us.

Eventually, Nana decided that Paw-paw Jimmie would not want her to stop living, so she began volunteering at the hospital again, participating in the parish bake sales, and helping out the Knights of Columbus Council that her husband helped found.  They say that living with us kept her going.  And she did keep going.

Nana lived with all she had.  When she couldn't volunteer anymore, she started a prayer book and prayed for anyone who asked her to and many who didn't.  She spent much of her day in pain, but strove not to complain.  She was always trying to learn and she hated the idea of being a burden, so she often insisted on unloading the dishwasher and folding the laundry until it became too difficult for her.

Nana never forgot a kindness.  Once, one of my friends offered to get Nana a glass of water and she was so touched that he would serve her in her own home that he was a long time favorite of hers among my friends.  Even when we all went away to college and she didn't see my friends as often, Nana would always inquire about their well-being and pray for them.

Nana was a huge fan of the New Orleans Saints.  She had a Pierre Thomas jersey.  He was her favorite player because she said he reminded her of her husband.

Nana was a hopeless romantic.  If my older sister or I ever left a good novel (e.g. Emma, An Old Fashioned Girl, etc.) out, Nana would snatch it up and stay up all night reading it.   Pride and Prejudice (1995), Singing In the Rain, and, An Affair to Remember were her favorite films.  She always wanted to be kept up to date about our love lives and who the most recent crushes were.  She also had her own opinions about which of our guy friends we should "set our caps for".

Nana was a special lady.  She had so much love in her heart.  I loved her a great deal.  I love her a great deal.  I feel blessed and honored to have lived with her for the last fifteen years.  I miss you, Nana.  Rest in peace.


Leslie Bertucci said...

This is such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady! Thank you so much for sharing! God bless Nana and your whole family :)

ALP said...

Wow, this is beautiful, Therese. It is so touching to hear you speak of your grandmother with such respect. I have been praying for your Nana and your family, and I hope all is well in Louisiana.

Mimi said...

Thank you for taking the time to let everyone know about Nana's specialness. She loved you so very much.

therese said...

What a beautiful post! It brought joy to my heart to remember Nana and how loving, sweet, and cute she was. God bless y'all!

Therese said...

Thanks, Thereseme!

Adolfo said...

Nana was a beautiful lady. Yours was a beautiful tribute.