Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Goodbye Nana...

Vera Elizabeth Infuso
Rockin' My New Prada Glasses
Tapestry, January 2010

The following paragraphs are from a eulogy I wrote for my Nana, who passed away suddenly on Monday, March 1, 2010.  I wrote it about an hour after receiving the phone call from my mum that Nana was gone.  I will not actually be saying the eulogy at the funeral, but my sister Mel suggested that I add it to my blog.  No painting this week, needless to say...

"I was sitting on the couch, shortly after hearing the news that Nana had passed.  Why is this such a shock?  Even though I know this is the natural progression of life, it doesn't make it one ounce easier at this point.

I was fortunate to have had my nana for all of my 39 years--not many people can lay claim to that fact.  Nana was always an incredibly strong matriarch for our family.  The years upon years of memories are crashing upon me right now, so I'm going to do my best to chose some of my favourite stories of our lives together.  

While my mum has always been the penultimate woman in my life, I can very honestly say that I have always been so influenced by my nana's words and actions.  Let's just start with food.  We spent almost every Sunday night growing up at Nana and Bampa's for dinner.  95% of the time, we walked in the side door at 34 Courtsfield to the smell of Nana's macaroni.  YAY!!!!  5% of the time it was a different smell--ROAST BEEF!!!  Needless to say, Ade, Mel, Ash and I lived for the macaroni night and thankfully, those nights were plentiful.   I think I was in university when I asked Nana to teach me how to make "Nana's spaghetti".  I listened to her every word (she wasn't big on actual measurements, which made replicating it kind of tough in the early years, but we figured it out) and wrote it down.  You couldn't sell that recipe for millions of dollars.  Now, all her grandchildren can make it.  Of course, it never really measures up to Nana's but I have to give mum kudos for making a mean "Nana meatball" now.  Ade actually spent the afternoon last Sunday making "Nana sauce".  Just one small legacy she left us with.

I remember, sort of fondly, the afternoon Nana tried to teach me how to make gnoochi.  It didn't go so well.  I know, she loved me so much, but she was ITCHING to call me STUPID because I couldn't roll the dough off the folk properly, like she did.  She kept ripping the fork from my hand, saying, "NO, THIS way..."  Let's just say I learned "patience" from Nana.

What was Nana without Bampa though?  Every Saturday morning the four of us would wait in earnest for the door at 7 Avonhurst for Nana and Bampa to arrive.  Bampa would greet us with a pocket full of change and dole it out to all of us to buy a "coffee".  Nana would make her way in to have mum do her hair--FINAL NET!!!  I'd make hot dogs in the microwave for everyone and thus, the Carter family Saturday afternoon legacy was born.

Nana always loved telling me lessons and stories from her life.  I remember when she told me that she and Bampa never bought a house with a mortgage and she sugested I do the same.  While times had changed most definitely, Nana did sell Sean and I our first house at 1095 Royal York Road.  The history that house had for our family!!!!  Bampa's mother bought it for Nana and Bampa when they got married!  While we did have a mortgage:) on the house, it allowed us to start the home ownership journey in the neighbourhood we love and so wanted to be a part of.  

Bampa died 12 years ago on March 25.  The last 12 years have not been easy for Nana, nor for Michael and mum.  Nana didn't think she could live for 5 minutes without Bampa, but in time, she did her best to make the best of life without her one true love.  Michael and mum have been tireless in their quest to make Nana's life happy since Bampa has been gone.  Just last week when Nana was back at Tapestry after "kicking" pneumonia AGAIN, she told me that the best doctors she ever had were Michael and Carol.  I saw first hand how this was true.  Every morning, mum would go to Tapestry to 'set Nana up'.  She'd make her bed, clean her apartment, get her dressed and do her makeup and get her ready to start the day.  They'd make her weigh herself and record her weight to make sure they had the dose of her medicine that controlled her congestive heart failure properly.  Michael would go to Nana's in the evening to make sure she had all of her proper pills and was ready for bed.  They shared the burden of her care and made sure she had the best chance of making her remaining days the best they could be.

The past 7 months were so much better for her.  As my friends say, Nana most definitely was a cat with 9 (or more) lives.  She managed to defeat illness time and time again.  She created amazing new friendships while living at Chartwell and Tapestry over the past 16 months that only served to provide her with new unexpected happiness at this point in her life.  Only 2 weeks ago she was the proud GOLD award winner at Tapestry!  I know her "new" friends will miss her has dearly as those who had known her throughout her life will too.

My kids were so sad to hear that Nana had passed.  Even though they don't really understand, Carter put it into her own perspective.  She said to me, "Mummy, I know why you are so sad.  It would be the same as if I didn't have Goonie and Peepa (her grandparents)."  She's so right.

Nana was so well loved by all of her siblings and friends.  Nana and her "little" sister auntie Annie must have talked 20 or more times a day for the past 80 odd years.  They were kindred spirits and I know Auntie Annie will miss her deperately.  Auntie Lucy is someone I will always need in our lives to get us through the tough times.  It seems as though she actually just knows what to say and how to comfort all of us.  The strength of Nana's own family was amazing.  I am sure Auntie Josie is up there with Nana right now, giving her huge hugs and wearing the most insane pair of cream, well pressed pants.  

Our lives were so enriched by having Nana in them.  She created two amazing souls in Michael and Carol.  I can remember every gift and book Michael has ever given me and my mum, well, there are no words really.  I can't thank Nana enough for how much she gave to all of us through her mere presence.  She lived a great 87.5 years and now, I know, she is with Bampa.  May they be looking down on us and know that we are eternarally greatful for making us all who we are.

Nana, I love you.  You will be a part of me forever."


  1. Well. That is just beautiful, Justine. I am crying for your loss - all of you - but with memories like these you are also so very very lucky. Love ya :)

  2. That's awesome Just. So well said. I have this total vision of Nana sitting in the family room at Robin Hood, Carol standing behind "setting" her hair. You guys really are so lucky to have had her in your life for so long. We should all be so lucky (and wonderful people) to have such an impact on our grandchildren. That in itself represents a life well lived!

  3. Frank and I were so touched by your eulogy. It gave us such an insight to some of the history behind your family but especially how much you all care for one another. History is such an important part of how a family stays so close. Thanks Justine! xxxxxx