Regrets…I have a few…

I was over at Afer “I Do” the other day and Krysten was talking about regrets.  She really got me thinking about what in my life I regretted the most and I haven’t stopped thinking about it now for a few days.  I don’t usually talk about it, but I’ve finally decided that I should.

I’ve told you about my grandfather and how awesome he is.  What I didn’t tell you was that my grandmother was pretty awesome too.   She was beautiful and fun and glamourous…and a little crazy. 

My mom is an only child and my brother and I were lucky that we didn’t have to share my grandparents with anyone.  We had the added benefit of living with them and having the around us all the time. 

My grandmother, aka Nanny, grew up really poor and had a ridiculously hard childhood.  When she got married and had a baby, she worked her ass off to make sure that her daughter had everything that she never did.  She didn’t stop with my mom either.  It continued right on down to my brother and me.  It was important to her that none of us ever experience the kind of things she’d had to go through.  So she made sure that we had a house and clothes and food, but also that we had cable tv and trips to the beach in the summer and more toys that we knew what to do with. 

Her generosity didn’t stop with her own family either.  I remember a co-worker once told her that she was saving the refunds from her cans and bottles to take her grandchildren on a trip to Disney.  From that day on my grandmother faithfully collected every can and bottle in our house and, once a week, carried a hug bag of cans to work with her.  She made sure that those kids went to Disney.  She did stuff like that all the time. 

She was a fiercely private person, even with her family.  What we know about her early life and her hardships we know from other people…her brothers and her uncle who passed the stories down to my mom.  She never wanted anyone to feel sorry for her.  She never talked about things that were unpleasant or difficult.  I only remember once, when it was just the two of us eating lunch at the diner, she started talking to me about the twin boys she lost to an ectopic pregnancy.  She’d tried for 15 years to get pregnant again after my mom was born and she wanted those babies so bad.  She knew something wasn’t right but was too terrified to go to the doctor.  She waited too long and when she finally went,  they knew they were going to lose one, but they tried to save the other.  They couldn’t and she was heartbroken. 

I think I often took her for granted because she was always there…right downstairs whenever I wanted to see her.  When I moved out of the house after college, I didn’t see her every day, but still often enough…I thought.  I rarely called her…she was never home and if you tried to call her at her job – a hospital switchboard operator – she put you on hold every two seconds to answer other calls. 

One night I did call her, while I was babysitting my friend’s son.  He was asleep and there was nothing on tv and I hadn’t spoken to her in about a week.  She was surprised to hear from me and said “Gee you must be bored if you are calling me…you never call me.”  She didn’t mean anything by that comment, it was just an observation.  She certainly wasn’t trying to make me feel guilty and I didn’t…at the time.

A few weeks after that phone call, Nanny was diagnosed with brain cancer.  She died within a three months.  There was a ridiculous snow storm the first night of her wake and we didn’t really expect anyone to make it.  To our surprise, there were hundreds of people there.  Every single person told me a different story about her, but they all had the same theme…she was one of the best people they had ever met, she was going to be sorely missed and she was surely never going to be forgotten. 

It has been five years now and sometimes it still doesn’t feel real.  Sometimes, something will happen and I my first thought will be “I have to tell Nanny about that.”  I spent a lot of time with her after she was diagnosed, but it wasn’t the same.  Sometimes she didn’t even know who I was, sometimes she was too sick to get out of bed for more than five minutes.  I want just one more day with her, to ask her about all the things that she never told me.  I regret that the day at the diner was the only time I got to hear her stories.  I regret that I didn’t call her more often.  I regret that I took for granted that she’d always be there.  She always used to say to me “Can you get married already…I would like to dance at your wedding before I’m dead you know!”  She was always joking because no one ever though she was going to die…including her.  How stupid we were.

So learn from my mistakes.  Go call your grandmother or your mom or your friend or your uncle…just to say hi.  Ask them about things you want to know.  Take the time…trust me, you won’t regret it.


  1. I feel the same way about my grandmother. I really should have spent more time with her during the later part of her life. (She was coincidentally “Nanny” or “Nan” also.) She passed away in 2005 and I still miss her every day and if M and I ever end up having a daughter we will name her after my grandmother. She was such a special person.

    Your post has me a little teary thinking about all of it, but it’s so true. Keep in touch with those people that mean the most to you because you never know what might happen.

  2. Yes, Shana, thanks for this. My grandma passed many years ago, in 1993 from emphysema – she smoked like a chimney! I lived with her (and my grandpa) for a while too. My mom also was an only child and my brother and I had my grandparents to ourselves. I have so many wonderful memories. It sounds like you do to! Cherish those, Shana! While you have regrets, remember the great memories too. Such a lovely post. Thanks so much!

  3. This is such a precious story. Your story will enlighten so many others who will then, in return, not take their Nanny/Grandmas for granted. We all have similar regrets…we lose track of time, get busy with life and more often than not, just forget to slow down and spend more time with the ones we love. Your so not alone.

    Thank you for sharing this post…it is so touching. I can read your emotion through each word.


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