3 Glorious Days

A friend recently asked me how I managed to not feel neglected, as I was a child with a sick family member who needed a lot of attention. My answer was simple – grandparents. I was blessed with wonderful grandparents who were active in my childhood and allowed me to live with them for many of my formative years. My parents are of the same opinion and agree my grandmother raised me. It was my grandmother that encouraged me to move 3,000 miles away.  I credit her with the reason I ended up in the mining industry and my mother for the reason I succeed.

Nanny on her trip to the Yukon with my daughter and son

My grandfather passed when I was 16, it was a huge loss and I never imagined I could love anyone more. Then I had many more decades with my grandmother – Nanny by name. She lived to 101. When she was 100, my grandfather came to my home; it was powerful and strong and I thought he had come for my grandmother. I cried thinking my grandmothers time had come at last, but I was wrong.  My grandmother had pneumonia and I did not know it at the time. I guess he came for another reason, maybe a heads up about her, or maybe to give me strength.

I flew 3,000 miles so my mother and I cound take my grandmother home from the hospital, they wanted her in a nursing home and she was having none of it. She was in a shared room with other elderly ladies, and I did my usual comic routine announcing I was busting her out and we have dancing boys, loud music and whiskey back at her place. She did the usual fake embarrassment adding ‘Oh Janet, you are just like your father’ routine for the benefit of the other ladies, while pulling me close and whispering ‘Never change!’

I stayed with her for what are 3 of the most wonderful, cherished days of my life. We never turned on the radio, we never watched TV. We sat and talked for hours, and sometimes we just sat.  We ate cake, I made meatloaf, she took naps, we had visitors. I asked questions about everything from her greatest achievement to her childhood on a rural farm during the depression. She was the wisest person I ever knew, with a home cure for everything from hypothermia to a nail driven through your foot; both my mishaps, both cured by her.

Nanny at her 100th birthday  – with some of her great grandchildren

I slept on her floor, and cooked her meals, after she tried to make me breakfast the first day.  90% blind with pneumonia and she still was trying to take care of me! She told me how she longed to be with my grandfather again, and how she loved my mother, my brother and I. She gave me advice about my kids and my life, told me how she wanted her funeral service, and how she would never live in a nursing home. 

I tucked her in, kissed and hugged her good night. I asked her questions about her prayers and how she prayed now not able to get on her knees.  She told me how she would lay in bed and say the Lords Prayer and God Bless everyone she could think of.

My great grandmother came to my home on a Sunday, it was unfamiliar at first, but powerful and feminine.  She stood on the hill by my house, and I just knew it was her; I can’t really explain how I knew, I just knew. She was soon joined by younger spirits I believed to be my grandmother’s brothers and sisters and then my great aunt joined them. As the evening went on more spirits joined them and eventually circled my home. My grandfather came back and told me that he had walked often with me when I had no idea he was there.  I walked different that night and talked different that night, I felt light.  And I cried, thinking they had come as before, and I would see my grandmother again very soon. I was wrong.

My grandmother was not alone when she passed over the next night, all the spirits from Sunday were not at my home Monday. Loving family members from the other side waited for her and accompanied her to a world she longed to be in, with people she missed dearly.

4 generations: me as a baby with my mom, grandmother and great grandmother.

When my mom called me in the middle of the night to tell me my Nanny passed, I didn’t know what to do so I laid in bed, said the Lord’s Prayer over and over thinking of her, finishing with God Bless to everyone.

My Nanny, my grandmother, my best friend, mother and mentor, was a gift from God and I shall miss her. I think of her passing in the company of her family that went before her, and I am happy.


About the Author

Janet Sheriff

An innovative entrepreneur, Janet brings her extensive experience in all aspects of strategic planning, management, indigenous affairs and communications to start ups, new ventures and the mining & exploration sectors. Janet focuses her entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills and vision to create new opportunities, award-winning innovative programs and new ways of conducting business. Her strong commitment to community engagement, sustainability and inclusion provides her the proven ability to work effectively and respectfully in cross-cultural environments.