On August 27, 2018, my Nana (Bobbi Brown) passed away. She fought the Cancer battle almost a year, had surgery to remove her stomach, and lost her ability to eat anything since the cancer we thought had been taken out turned out to still be blocking her intestines. It was rough to watch her go through it, but I can't imagine how rough it was to experience it.
...eating is taken for granted.
Towards the end, she would often mention how awful it was to not be able to eat. It was one of her favorite things to do, along with cooking. She talked about how eating is taken for granted. One day, she was passing by some goats in a field, saw them drinking some water and felt a pang of jealousy just to be able to drink again.
Despite all of the obstacles she faced, she never let it steal all of her joy. Understandably, it would get the best of her at times and she would be sad, but overall, she was always happy, laughing, and making jokes. This is the memory of the end of her life I want to keep forever. It would have been so easy for her to become overwhelmingly depressed, but she never lost who she was. I have to say, it made it a lot easier on me to see her bright and cheerful attitude hang on until the very end.
It would have been so easy for her to become overwhelmingly depressed, but she never lost who she was.
As I reflect on her life as I knew it, I have so many great memories of her. My family has always been in the same town as Nana and Pappaw, so for as long as I can remember, we would visit their house frequently.
My brother, Will, and I had the BEST times going over to spend the night. Nana and Pappaw never hesitated at any request and were always down to play with us, no matter how silly the game would be. Just the other day we were sitting at their house looking through some pictures. We found some of Will and Pappaw on the floor, and several more with Will riding on Pappaw's back. Both were wearing bandanas around their faces. You can only imagine! Nana was taking the picture, and I can just picture the joy she must have been feeling to watch her husband and grandson play together. I remember constantly requesting to watch Sleeping Beauty, and never being turned down.
When it was time for bed, Will and I would pile into Nana's bed (sorry, Pappaw), along with Will's companion Mr. Rabbit, that never left Nana and Pappaw's house. Every single time, Nana would tell us a story about Mr. Rabbit until we drifted off to sleep. The next morning, we would wake up to the smell of homemade biscuits, eggs, and bacon. Or some other combination of breakfast food. It's not until later in life that you truly learn to appreciate these little things.
It's not until later in life that you truly learn to appreciate these little things.
There are countless other memories with Nana. Building snowmen in the front yard with even the smallest amount of snow on the ground. Waking up Christmas morning with excitement to go to Nana's, eat her amazing food (there was always wayyyy too much!), and open what seemed like a million presents. When her and Pappaw bought "the farm" outside of Prescott and drove Will and I around on their new mule. How they kept that place in top shape and loved it with all their heart. Taking trips to Branson. Driving around to look at Christmas lights. Hearing all the stories she told about her life. Making a quilt together out of my other grandmother's dresses who had passed away. Teaching me how to make biscuits and gravy from scratch. Her bright red hair and shining, happy eyes. Her belly laugh. Watching her in the kitchen, doing what she loved.
After she was released from the hospital for the last time and sent home to be on hospice, she talked a lot about her life and how it was a good one. As my family and I sat with her, she talked about how she went from working tirelessly at the garment factory and still poor to taking a leap of faith answering an ad in the paper for a manager/share holder position. She called the phone number and told the man that she wanted the job. She had no idea what the business was or what the position would entail, yet took the chance anyway. She mortgaged the house and the car just to have enough money to buy in. She said, "I never really thought about 'what if I fail.' I just knew it was going to work out." Little did she know, that one decision would impact the rest of our family in ways she would never imagine. That business was the Sonic Drive-In in Prescott, and now my parents are operators of the franchise too. But her decision had far more impact than that.
"I never really thought about 'what if I fail.' I just knew it was going to work out."
If she only knew how much that sentence meant to me. It spoke right to me that day because of my business start-up. It also made me realize how much alike we are. Like her, I don't really think about "What if I fail?" because I have such high hopes. Even when she had no money and no idea how things would turn out, she had high hopes. I realize how determined and hard-working she was. She's my inspiration.
Back around November, we had an impactful moment together. We had been at her house having one of our last meals together as a family (although we didn't know it at the time). At this point, I had been talking with them about how I was thinking about leaving my job teaching to chase the bakery dream. If you know my Nana, you know she doesn't have much of a filter. he told me that "Quitting is easy, you need to stick it out." This really upset me, and I left her house that day crying and upset without saying goodbye or anything.
I felt like she didn't understand where I was at. It's not that I wanted to quit because I didn't think I was capable of doing it. I wanted to quit because of the toll I knew it was going to take on my life and my health. It also felt like she didn't believe in my dream. I promised myself then that I would make this bakery happen to prove her wrong.
Later that day she called me and told me how sorry she was and that she didn't intend to hurt me. She assured me that if starting a bakery is what I wanted to do, then that's what I should do. She told me she believed in me and knew that I would do well in anything I set out to do. We cried together, and I think that changed our relationship for the better.
Up until she died, she continued to ask me how business was doing and if there was anything she could buy for me to help out. She offered advice for me and insisted that I talk to people she knew who had been in the food service industry one way or another. It meant so much to know I had her support. I had promised myself to succeed to prove her wrong, now I promise to succeed to prove her right, to make her proud and carry on her legacy.
I had promised myself to succeed to prove her wrong, now I promise to succeed to prove her right, to make her proud and carry on her legacy.
Knowing who she was has been a huge motivator for me lately. She was a fearless lady and never really met a stranger. She was always positive with high hopes for the future. Even on her death bed, she talked about all the things she was going to do once she got better. What a testament to how optimistic she was! She was determined and driven. She was happy and made a great life for herself. She lived a simple life even though she did well for herself.
While she was at home on hospice, she had a friend help her write a book about her life. I don't know when this book will be printed, but I am so ready to read all about her and learn even more about how wonderful she was.
I love you, Nana and I will miss you so much. Thank you for all the amazing memories I can cherish forever and for leaving a legacy that will inspire my future.