Tuesday, November 23, 2010

baby steps and bananagrams

my grandpa, who my family refers to as nanno, played bananagrams a few days ago. this is a game similar to scrabble, where you try to make words out of little plastic letters. however, unlike scrabble, bananagrams houses its letters in an adorable yellow bag shaped like-you guessed it.

to an outside, undiscerning eye, this would look like an ordinary saturday night. lawerence welk was playing on the t.v. in the kitchen. dishes from our family supper sat bubbly in the sink. my brother was in the living room doing his homework. but i assure you, this was a moment that made my heart soar.

about a month ago, nanno was rushed to the hospital with shortness of breath. he had just celebrated his 90th birthday the previous weekend. his sisters, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gathered to celebrate him and rejoice in his good health. at his golden age, he still finished an entire crossword puzzle every day and was a voracious reader, devouring anything he could get his hands on, no matter how random the content. case in point--his latest book finished was kathy griffin's autobiography. it didn't matter to him. as long as he could keep his mind sharp and engaged, it was enough.

nanno had pneumonia. this is bad news at any age, but at 90 it's like he crossed over into the realm of fraility and we were all worried sick about him. that, coupled with the fact that he only has a fraction of his lungs due to a post-war surgery many years ago.

so we waited. and watched. as this proud, sweet man weakened. it broke our hearts and threatened to break our spirits. nanno used to be the champ at bananagrams. he would beat our entire family, triumphantly exclaiming BANANAGRAMS when he reached his victory. he would come up with the most obscure words, all of which were always in the dictionary.

but we didn't play bananagrams for a while. he didn't feel up to it. instead, he wanted to sit in his chair with a little white blanket covering his feet. he wanted to watch jeopardy and wheel of fortune and let his mind wander. and didn't he deserve it? this is a man who has lived his life in the shadows, serving and helping. shouldn't we serve him and just let him rest?

but last weekend, he did something spectacular. after supper, like usual, we asked do you want to play bananagrams? expecting the usual, "no, not today." but he didn't say that. his little ears perked up and he said sure.

so we played. my sister and her boyfriend won the game, but it didn't matter. nanno had the true victory. that little act was a big feat. it symbolized a return to hope, life and a sense of normalacy. it was tangible proof that God answers prayers.

nanno was back, and it was a beautiful thing. he's not healed--that will be a long road, but he has taken the first baby step toward recovery. and isn't that what life is? just a sweet succession of baby steps along the way? there's a reason babies aren't born with the ability to run. they'd be out of the house in no time, out exploring before they were ready.

crawing, baby steps, time. it's all about preparation. building up your wings before taking flight. because then, when you're truly ready to fly away, it will be more glorious than you ever imagined.

nanno at his 90th birthday


Anonymous said...

you have such a beautiful family. you all look so loving! and this was beautiful to read. i hope your nanno recovers fully so he can beat your sister next time. i will be putting many many positive thoughts out there for him!

and miss, i think you should make a button so i can display it on my blog. you are glorious :)

Peaches said...

I've never played bananagrams before but it sounds like fun. It's always hard to watch someone you love get sick but I'm glad your nanno is getting better. It looks like he's got a lot of love in his life. :)

And I'm ALL about the baby steps in life. Life is not easy, but when I think about it in terms of baby steps, it's much easier to handle.

lindsay said...

such a lovely post. you always express yourself so perfectly and this is absolutely beautiful. i wish your nanno well. he is so lucky to have such love around him ♥

i agree with e.day you need a button :)

Jude said...

This is so very very beautiful. Sending good thoughts to your nanno - I'm sure he is buoyed by all the incredible love from you and your family. I haven't touched bananagrams in so long - love that you evoked it in this post, and in the way you did!

grace said...

thanks for sharing such a real moment. i feel like sometimes people underestimate the bond you can have with your grandparents, i'm glad to hear nanno is on the mend!

naturally nina said...

awww i love this post. and i love your header. :)

Jason said...

I already knew this about you, yet it's worth repeating...you are such an AWESOME writer! Great post. I hope Nanno continues to recover well.

Amber Blue Bird said...

aww that was so sweet. I hope nanno continues to get better.

Chelsea Elizabeth. said...

This is such a lovely post, and I'm not going to lie, it made my eyes pretty watery. Haha.
I hope the best for him,you have such a beautiful family. :)

<3Chelsea Elizabeth

s y n d e e said...

I hope you get to spend another ten+ years with your nanno:) he is adorable and such an inspiration. I like how he read kathy griffin's book!

-Sam I Am- said...

what a GREAT photo!!! such a lovely fam :)
and banangrams?! Count me in!!!!

Ana* said...

Aww you have a beautiful family!! The "building up your wings before taking flight" statement is so inspiring. You're so inspiring. I am more than happy I found your blog.

Emily said...

what a sweet post!Thanks for being so open and honest those are always the best posts :) Bananagrams is a fun game!

anne said...

what a wonderful post!

Inez said...

I love this story, and what a nice photo, you all together!
+ I'm your newest follower, but I don't have a photo so I'm that weard grey thing :)

Demi said...

you have a really nice family!

charla beth said...

this was the sweetest little story.
nothing beats time with grandpa's. :)
i hope he has continued to heal and improve in health over the last several months.

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