Remembering Nan

Today is the seventh anniversary since my beloved Nan died. She battled lung cancer for six months and took her final breath on the snowy evening of 25 January 2013. It feels like yesterday and I still miss her a lot.

I’m going to share a few songs and stories of our times together. These songs are some songs Nan liked, disliked, and one she never heard, but it’s a memory I associate with her. These are some of the memories that make me smile.

Between seventh and tenth grades, I was heavily into Nirvana and in 2003, I saw a sweatshirt at Hot Topic that I wanted. I was 14 at the time and obviously unemployed; Nan made a deal with me. I would scrub her bathroom and kitchen floors (she had two bathrooms with tubs, then a bathroom with just a toilet), then she would buy me the sweatshirt. I lived up to the deal of my bargain and a week later, Nan bought me the Nirvana sweatshirt. While it no longer fits me anymore, I still have it hanging up in my closet because it’s such a kind memory.


In February 2004, I discovered Flogging Molly and bought one of their CDs. Nan drove a 2000 Pontiac Firebird that had a cassette player, and since I had a CD walkman converter, Nan would let me play music as we traveled together. I decided to put one of the Flogging Molly CDs in and Nan loved “Devil’s Dance Floor” the most. She thought it was a good dancing piece and really loved the beat. I remember her saying, “maybe you can learn how to dance to this song. Young people don’t dance anymore and it’s such a shame.” I never learned how to dance, but this remained one of our favourite songs that we enjoyed together.

One time in 2004, I decided to play The Doors’ greatest hits and when “Light My Fire” came on, she asked, “did he say ‘senior high’?” I said, “No, he said, ‘she get high'” and Nan didn’t really like that. I think she was afraid it would give me ideas, but it never did because I’m not interested in that lifestyle. Dad was a Doors fan growing up, but I guess he never played Doors for Nan. I didn’t play that CD again, but when one of her nieces visited from Colorado, we enjoyed chatting about Jim and the band.


Although I don’t have a driver’s license, I did learn how to drive. When I was learning how to drive, Nan often drove with me and I felt the most calm when driving with her. Since I have really bad anxiety, that’s why I don’t have a license and after failing the test on the ninth try, both Nan and dad said, “Jessica, driving isn’t for everyone and if you aren’t comfortable with it, the worst thing you can do is force yourself to be comfortable with it. You’ll just have to live in a city.” Anyway, when I was still learning, Nan often accompanied me to summer classes at West Chester University in 2009. She would sit on a bench on campus, reading a book, however, she said students would stop and chat with her. She loved chatting with the students and loved how welcoming everyone was of her. We often listened to Lady Gaga on the drive – she loved Lady Gaga; Nan thought her style was odd, but her voice was beautiful.


You are loved and miss, my dear Nan. You weren’t only my grandmother, you were also my best friend. Your memory is alive and well in my stories.




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Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

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