"The Prettiest Thing You Can Wear For Me Today Is A Smile." Parting Advice from My Nan.

My Mom unearthed and gave me this 
photo on my visit to NL in May 2011.
I had forgotten it was ever taken.
This was the last picture ever taken with my grandparents.  It was Summer 2002, and the last day of my annual visit to Newfoundland.  I remember my grandmother was crying just minutes before because she felt a sense of urgency to take a formal picture with me before I left.  I was resisting her like the spoiled child I was, actually I was a whiny 25 year old. "I'm wearing denim shorts Nan! I would have fixed my hair and make up, and worn something nicer."  

Pop wasn't any more thrilled about the picture than I was, and his expression says A LOT.  He was usually quick to smile, and always had a joke, though it was hard to understand as he rarely ever wore his teeth.  Nan's advice that day: "Life brings surprises when the only thing you can control is your attitude. The prettiest thing you can wear for me today is your smile."

My Pop passed suddenly from an aneurysm in March 2003.  Nan was taken from us a year later.  A Cancer diagnosis came in late April 2004, she was given 6 weeks to live.  The doctors didn't know my Nan.  She said she wasn't going anywhere before her Birthday.  I had the honor of spending a month with her.  From her make-shift bed on the living room couch, I watched her call friends, neighbours, family, long lost acquaintances.  Why?  She didn't call to whine or complain about her failing health.  Each conversation ended with; "I just want you to know you are loved.  I love you, and God loves you. I hope to see you in heaven someday. Good-bye."  

My Nan was laid to rest on her Birthday in September 2004.  She lived more than twice as long as the doctors expected, without treatment.  Long enough to teach me: Take every picture like it is your last.  End each conversation as though it can make a difference in eternity.  

October is a month to remember and celebrate those who are facing cancer, or have already fought the good fight.  For more information or to find support, visit the Canadian Cancer Society today.


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