Training for a marathon is like building a puzzle. Trusting that it will all come together I piece together specific workouts, nutrition, and rest. My last two weeks of training have been light. One week of light running is built into my four week training to help me rejuvenate and absorb the training I have done the weeks prior. I take it easy with light jogs, body work, and rest. This time however required two “light weeks” to absorb a pre-Boston Marathon visit to Boston to celebrate the life and legacy of Nana Mary, the nurturing matriarch of our family who’s nearly ninety-eight years on this planet have had a lasting impact on my life.
It seems counter intuitive that not running will actually help me (not hurt) better achieve my goal of running Hopkinton to Boylston at the Boston Marathon, but it works when accompanied with the other pieces of the puzzle and my job is to just trust the process. The loss of Nana has had a physical and emotional toll that demanded recognition with a need to lighten my load where I could.
Nana would say, “You do too much. You run too far.” This time I listened to her and took a step back for another week of doing less. Like my training, my body and mind needed to absorb what was happening, and I needed to trust the process.
Tasked with writing Nana’s eulogy my blog went as “dark”(or light depending on how you look at it) as my training. So it seems only appropriate to bring light back to it by honoring this amazing woman’s legacy.
Today, we celebrate Nana Mary’s incredible life and legacy as the tenacious, tough, and nurturing matriarch of our family.
Mary was someone special to everyone in this room. To me she was Nana and to my children she was Nana Mary. She has been an ever-present grandmother to Jenine, myself, and my brother Sean and was blessed to participate in the lives of her five great grandchildren.
Some may have called Nana stubborn or fiery. I call her passionate. She had a flare for drama that only Nana could bring and this was not lost to her. She told me that Papa would call her “excitable Mary”. My mother recalls a time when was Nana speaking loudly (passionately) about something and someone told her to “stop yelling”. Nana’s response? “ I am not yelling, I am making a point”. I admired this about Nana. You never had to guess what she was thinking. If she felt strongly she would always make her point known. I knew right where I stood with her if wasn’t back to her apartment in time for dinner.
Despite the thousands of miles between us she has always been an influential presence in my life. Some of my very first memories as a child are of Nana and our trips to the Dello Lodge in Alton Bay. I remember running and hiding from Nana in the kitchen of their apartment on the top floor of the lodge. When I was brave enough to peek out the window I looked down to see Nana furiously waving her arms and talking to the police. I knew I was in big trouble. The activities and entertainment he children and grandchildren chose have always had a way of making Nana very “nervoso” but as I have grown and shared stories with her of my adventures she seemed to appreciate it in a worried yet, vicarious sort of way.
I am forever grateful for our hours of coffee talk and fruit cup during my visits. These years of openly asking questions and sharing thoughts and feelings with Nana as grown woman have been gift. I once asked my what is the secret to marriage and motherhood. Her answer: forgiveness and patience and of course love.
Nana’s love was shown in so many ways to all of us. Whether she was being an ever gracious host and tirelessly cooking our favorite dishes or passionately telling us to be careful. Nana Mary lives on in the minds and hearts of her great-grandchildren. My boys got to know her well and every time we eat spaghetti, they exclaim, Nana Mary makes the best sauce.
Near the end of Nana’s service I was overcome by this feeling of relief. The strong sense that she was ok where ever she had gone came over me. I envisioned her and other loved ones standing together laughing at this life because everything is fine and they now know in the end we are all going to be ok. Life is about trusting the process so you can really live and experience it despite the things about it that make you nervous or scared. I suppose if I must circle this back, life too is about piecing the puzzle together for a picture only you can imagine. Let’s do this!
Nana Mary, Papa Ralph Sr. and my Dad, Ralph Jr.