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       "Nana, I'll always love you", p.1

           Taryn Leonard
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"Nana, I'll always love you"


  NANA, I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU

  by Taryn Leonard

  Copyright 2011 Taryn Leonard

  For Jack & Oliver

  My Nana is the best Nan in the whole wide world! Jimmy reckons his Nan is. But how can she be. I bet she doesn’t do all the things with him that my Nana does. Take the other day. I was busy climbing my favourite tree, boasting about what a lad I am when the next thing I know, Nana is motoring up the tree too!

  “Hey George, look at me! I’ll be up there with you before you can say Jiminy Cricket!” Nana shouted. She was so excited. Mum however was less impressed.

  “What on earth are you doing? Have you completely lost your marbles? What about your bad back!” squealed Mum, cranking her neck to see Nan shimmy along the branch.

  “I’m fine! This is fun! Don’t know why I didn’t do it before!” Nana said jubilantly, as she edged her way towards George. But then came that loud cracking sound.

  “Nana!” George screamed. The branch snapped. No one ended up in hospital but George decided not to invite Nana to join him tree climbing again.

  Nana was one of George’s favourite people. She always played whatever game George wanted to play – especially when everyone else would say ‘just a minute, George’ or ‘Oh no, not now darling, I’ll play later’.

  She was also the only person that George would snuggle up with on rainy Saturday afternoons. Their hugs were extra special. But i

  t was George and Nana’s love of drawing that made them inseparable. For George, visiting Nana’s was a bit like stepping into your favourite sweet shop. He could paint or draw for as long as he liked. No chores, no ‘George, can you do this or George, can you do that’.

  But lately George had noticed a change in Nana. She didn’t seem as cheerful or chatty. She’d apologise of course, telling him she was very tired. George’s suspicions grew further when Mum told him Nana was in hospital.

  “Mum, how could you leave Nana in hospital!” George snapped. “What’s wrong with her! You know how she hates hospitals and doctors and people fussing and telling her what to do. What can be so bad that she can’t come home? Did any of those doctors tell you? Did they say how long it would be for?” George stopped babbling for a moment and looked up at his Mum. She was unusually quiet and simply said, “I don’t know when Nana will be home George and neither do the doctors.”

  “Well, if she’s got to stay more than a night, she’ll definitely need lots of cheering up. What can I take her? D’you think she’d like some of my pictures?” George bellowed as he ran upstairs to his bedroom. He scooped up handfuls of drawings, which were scattered around the room.

  Nana’s face lit up when she saw George walking into the ward. “Hello, my darling! I’m so glad you’ve come to see me. I’ve missed you, you know.” She gave him one of her big hugs. And of course she made a fuss about his pictures. ‘I’m sure she’ll be home soon,’ thought George, as he pinned them on the board behind her bed.

  They hadn’t had their usual chat though, George realised as he left the hospital. That made him sad. Of course, Nana had just wanted to rest.

  ‘How long will it take Nana to get better’, George pondered that night.

  She’d suddenly looked so very poorly and small lying in her hospital bed. He finally fell asleep thinking about Nana laughing and playing chess.

  The first thing George noticed on his next visit was

  the hug. It just wasn’t as big as his usual hug. He started to feel nervous. Something was wrong. Just as he was about to say something to Mum Nana tapped the bed beside her and tried to draw George closer to her. She then said quietly, “I want you to be a really brave boy for me. I’ve got something important to tell you.”

  She stopped for a minute while George looked across at Mum and Dad and back again to Nana. He reached out for her hand. “I don’t know if you know how poorly I’ve been, my darling, but the doctors have finally decided what’s wrong. They don’t think I’ve got much time left with you all.” She paused, swallowing back her tears.

  George gasped. With a look of disbelief on his face, he murmured, “What does that mean, Nana?”

  Nana hugged him gently. She looked at George and very slowly said, “Nana’s going to,” she faltered for a moment before trying again to finish what she’d started to say, “Nana won’t be here for much longer George.” Tears welled in her eyes as she tried to carry on, “So, we’ll have to make the most of the time we have left, hey.” She finished, doing her best to make light of the situation.

  Before long everyone was hugging and crying and Dad was trying to say something. All George heard was “…watching over you” and “good times to remember.”

  “Even when I’m gone George, I’ll still be looking out for you. A bit like your very own fairy godmother,” Nana tried to joke.

  George looked down at her and whispered, “Will I still be able to talk to you?”

  “You can tell me whatever you like. Just keep me in your heart and I’ll always be with you!” she reassured.

  With tears rolling down his cheeks, George said, “How will I know you’re listening?” But he could see she was getting tired, so he stroked her hair, gave her a kiss and murmured, “I love you Nana. You’re the best.”

  As he was leaving the ward she said quietly, “Remember, I’ll always love you, George.”

  ***

  It was Monday morning just after breakfast. The phone was ringing and then Mum was crying. George knew that Nana had died. Everyone was crying then, even George.

  “Why did Nana have to die? I don’t want her to die! I want her to stay here with me!” George shouted as he ran to his room, flinging himself on his bed.

  What happened next seemed to take up a lot of everyone’s time. There were tears. There were sad faces. Uncles, aunts and friends spoilt George. The house buzzed with voices. Beds filled the spaces.

  One evening, during a very noisy dinner, George suddenly burst out, “If people are going to say things about Nana at the funeral, I want to say something too!”

  So it was agreed that George would say a few words about Nana . He wasn’t looking forward to the getting dressed-up bit though. He didn’t see why he couldn’t wear his favourite trainers and t-shirt!

  George noted the

  smartly dressed people at the funeral and was glad he’d made an effort too. Nana’s picture was beside the coffin. On top were some of her favourite flowers. The smell took George back to Nana’s garden. He knew Nana would’ve approved. She’d have liked the music they were playing too. And she’d have joined in with those who cried over the lovely words said about her.

  One thing that surprised George was the fact that he wasn’t frightened for Nana. Somehow he knew she was okay. He also knew he needed to be brave today. He was looking after Mum, in case she cried. And he had to get up to tell everyone about his Nana, and what she meant to him.

  After the sadness of the funeral lots of people gathered to laugh and tell stories about Nana. Nana would’ve liked that too.

  ***

  George had been talking to Nana every day since she’d gone. He missed her hugs, their chats, the drawing they did together. At night he’d go to bed and cry into his pillow until it was wet and soggy. He felt funny inside and didn’t know what to do about it. Mum and Dad had been giving him lots more hugs just lately and had told him it was okay to feel ‘funny inside’ but that it’d get easier soon.

  Tonight, just as Dad was closing his bedroom door he’d quietly said, “If you’re ready George, you’ll find a letter Nana wrote for you under your pillow.”

  George thought for a few moments then pulled out the
crisp white envelope from under the pillow.

  “My darling George,

  I asked Mummy and Daddy to give this letter to you when they knew you’d be ready to read it.

  You know how very much I love you and how I treasured the time we had together. But it was obviously my time to go!

  Remember that I will always be with you. Keep me in your heart at all times and think about the fun and the games, those hugs and those kisses.

  Before I finish I’d like you to make me a special promise. That you’ll always draw – it’s such a lovely way to express yourself. And when you draw, think of me and make me proud!

  Close your eyes and think of one of our great big hugs and kisses. Goodbye my darling.

  Love forever

  Nana

  xxx”

  Tears fell as he folded the letter and put it back under his pillow.

  ***

  George had been thinking a lot about the promise he’d made Nana. It was a really special promise and he didn’t want to let her down, he wanted to keep it. But he hadn’t picked up a drawing pad for weeks. Suddenly he knew exactly what he had to do.

  He grabbed his old purple jumper and favourite bobble hat and strode towards the back door, clutching his pad and pencils. His Mum’s plea of “It’s freezing out there George…” rang in the air as he settled down, rubbing his back into the base of the tree. Yes, it was a bit uncomfortable but George could almost see Nana pottering in the garden as he started to sketch. Somehow it just felt right. Being there, drawing by his favourite climbing tree with the warmth of the winter sun on his face.

  “Mum! Mum! There’s a competition! I’m going to enter it. Maybe I can win it! Make Nana really proud. What d’ you think, Mum? D’you think I can win it?” George said breathlessly, throwing his school bag and coat down on the floor as he fell in through the door.

  “What on earth are you babbling about George? Take a breath and tell me what you’re talking about,” Mum said, picking the coat and bag up from the floor.

  “I’m going to do a picture and enter it in the art competition! It’s for the whole of the south east! Mr. Headrow said. He said we can draw whatever we like. So what should I do?” he asked. But before Mum got a chance to open her mouth, George was out the door and striding down the garden path. “But your tea’ll be ready soon George and it’s been raining!” she said, exasperated.

  George pulled out some paper from his box and sat down by the tree. He rubbed his head then began to sketch.

  He was sure he could draw something special. Trouble was, what? Last year when

  Nana had wanted to draw something special for a competition they’d talked for hours. She finally chose a seaside scene of a place she loved. Her picture had won 2nd prize.

  After lots of sketching George had decided. He’d fallen in love with the Eiffel Tower when Mum and Dad had taken him on a trip to Paris, so he’d do his very own gangly tower.

  George was sitting on the edge of his chair swinging his legs anxiously when Si, his class mate, started nudging him. Everyone was looking at him and clapping. Mum and Dad were beaming. He must have won something! He rushed towards the stage, a smile spreading over his face.

  Mr Headrow shook his hand, “Congratulations George. You’ve come 2nd in the 5 to 9 age group!”

  George looked down at his parents and knew that Nana was there too. She’d be proud of him. He’d achieved 2nd prize. His drawing and his promise to Nana had helped him through his winter of grief. Who knows, maybe next time round he’d get 1st prize!

  ###

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