“From day one my nana and I had a very close relationship. I was born on her 39th birthday on a cold December morning. The first of her 7 grandchildren. We shared 45 birthdays together, usually with 2 cakes side-by-side. Over the years we shared so many experiences together. Family camping trips, weekend girl shopping trips, card games around the table, and the list goes on and on. But my favorite times with my nana were those quiet moments where we could just sit and talk. Whether in person or on the phone, we’d talked about everything.
Like many people in her generation she was a caring soul that most would describe as ‘someone that would give you the shirt off her back.’ Later in life I learned how true that was. When I was only 10 days old, I had pneumonia and almost died. My mom and grandparents hired a nurse to come care for me. I never thought much about how they paid for that until my grandfather told me many years later. He said ‘Mit, your nana worked triple shifts in the shoe shop to help your mother pay for that nurse. She would come home with her fingers bleeding from sewing so many shoes. She’d quickly wash and then run right to you, to make sure you were okay. That’s how much she loves you.’
Talk about LOVE. I never confirmed the story with my nana because I believe she wouldn’t have wanted the credit. A humble/beautiful soul that without even knowing that story, to me was the best nana in the world.
That world came crashing down when she was diagnosed with cancer. But in true Nana fashion, she fought hard and after 2 years was given a clean bill of health. So we were all quite surprised when the doctor said her cancer had come back and there was nothing they could do for her. Myself, my mother, my cousin, and two aunts all took turns spending the night with Nana. I had so many good chats with her during those last months, but there is one in particular I will never forget.
Nana’s very last good night happened to be my turn to spend the night with her. We laughed and ate Chinese food while watching some of her favorite shows and talked about the non profit I was starting in her honor called Smile Through The Storm. When we were finished, I held her hand and said, ‘Nana, when you get to heaven please send me lots of pennies so I know you’re still near.’ She laughed and said, ‘Okay, Mit.’ Nana passed away just 2 days later on Thanksgiving night.
Immediately after her passing, I started finding pennies. Not just a few, but dozens and dozens of pennies. Those dozens turned into hundreds and hundreds of pennies. My mom joked and said, ‘Michelle, you should have told her to send twenty dollar bills.’ But pennies to me are perfect because that’s exactly what I asked for. I smile as I pick up each new one and whisper, ‘Thank you nana, I love you.’
I’ve found pennies in the strangest places. A room that was just vacuumed. In the shower. In a box that contained an ornament I had given her. I chose to keep all of them. Stored safely in the largest old Mason jars I could find. I knew I wanted to do something special with some, but I wasn’t quite sure just what.
As we approached 4 years since her passing, I finally realized what I wanted to do with my pennies from heaven. With my husband’s help I screwed together some old barn boards and started carefully gluing each penny.
Memories of Nana quickly flooded my mind as tears filled my eyes. A heart. It had to be a heart because what else is there to symbolize such deep love?
I quickly dug out a card she had given me and scanned it into the computer. My husband carefully traced ‘love and kisses Nana.’ As my Cricut machine printed the final touch. My eyes welled with tears, but my heart was filled with nothing but love.”
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