An Open Letter To My Nana

An Open Letter To My Nana

Everyone deserves a Nana like you
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Everyone deserves a Nana like you.

You are the sweetest, kindest, most loving person I have ever met and I am so glad God blessed me with being your granddaughter. From the moment I was born you were there, you lived almost 500 miles away but yet you were there every step of the way.

From first steps to first words, first days of school, you were there. Every first that you and Papa could be there for, you were. I didn't know it then but you were destined to be my best friend from the start. All the years you and Pops spent traveling back and forth from NC to PA, just to watch me and my brother grow up. You wanted to be there every step of the way and I couldn't have been more grateful. Looking back I wouldn't change a thing.

Now that I am older and can actually realize the depth your love goes for me and my brother just makes me more thankful. I would do anything for you and I know you would do the same. I would spend every minute of my day hanging out with you if I could and if you didn't live so far away.

Being able to come hang out with you and spend these last two weeks was the biggest blessing. Learning your "not so secret" family recipes, being able to watch our shows together, baking cookies, shopping, playing slots, and so much more. You have told me this whole trip that I'm not allowed to go back home because you like the company and how much I have helped you and truth be told, I wouldn't leave you if I didn't have to.

One of my favorite memories, that maybe some wouldn't even call a memory, was when I got the tattoo of your handwriting, "Love You Bushels." It is by far my favorite tattoo I have and I know how much you hate them but you always joke with me anyways. I still remember to this day, when I posted a picture of it and told you to go look, you called me spitting Italian like you do when I stress you out, lol.

"Oh my Kayce, why would you do this?" you said.

"Well, I wanted to Nun and now you will always be with me," I replied.

"Well it is beautiful I guess," you responded (still with an attitude).

"So you like it?" I said.

"Well, hun, you know I love your mother and brother just as much as you, but maybe if I love them a little less they won't go putting it all over their bodies," you responded.

I laughed, you laughed because no one quite gets your sense of humor like I do, and no one quite gets mine like you.

I love this time I get to spend with you. The memories we make, the laughs we share, I wouldn't trade this time for the world. I know you will always be with me, even when you are 500 miles away.

Cover Image Credit: Kayce Davis

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Remembering My Grandma's One-Of-A-Kind Recipe

Like the melancholy candies in Because of Winne Dixie, the infamous orange cake brings more than just a taste. It recalls a timeline of memories that I shared with my grandmother, or at least I think it would…

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Years ago, and hand-in-hand, my grandmother and I shuffled and shaked around the terracotta floors of her beach condominium, baking the most decadent cake, the infamous orange cake.

Her and this cake had a lot in common: The cake was almost as sweet as her. As soon as she or it was gone, you wanted, needed, more. The brilliant zest and orange-scented buttercream could even keep up with her one-of-a-kind flair. These are my memories of Grandma Margie and our cake – two things that are now out of touch but always within reach of my mind.

My grandmother passed away seven years ago from the terrible monster of cancer. As time has continued since her passing, it has become easier for me to swallow my memories of this cake, the memories of her. I can now say that the songs we sang together, the little habits she performed, and pictures that seem to float up from nowhere can pass me on most days and be taken in with a soft smile and a gratitude prayer for all she gave to me. This week, however, my mind and soul are weeping for the memories we made.

It was Sunday evening when I received the phone call from my mother. My early childhood neighbor had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, what is known as malignant "octopus tumors." Together, Nicolette and my grandmother were united by this ravenous disease that invades and overtakes. Immediately, I broke into tears. Remembering my mother's previous texts of the day, mentioning heartbreak, devastation, and sadness, I gasped in all the air I could find to hold back the sobbing. I wanted to be strong for my mother – the same way my grandmother had been for all of us. It was as soon as we said goodnight that the unrelenting flood of emotion overcame me. There was no stopping the tears, even though I tried to remember my grandmother's saying that crying only makes your eyes puffy and your nose red. Sunday night, my looks didn't matter.

At just twenty-nine years old, Nicolette has now had her life taken from her for sixteen months. It was hard enough for me to understand why a seventy-five-year-old woman had to suffer, never mind this young soul. Even in the difficulties I face as I take bites into each new day this week, I must remind myself of the ingredients my grandmother gave to me for a delicious life:

1. There is ALWAYS more to give.

Grandma Margie gave, and gave, and gave. As an in-home nurse, she spent time around the clock giving up her time for the benefit of others. She never came around empty-handed. Whether it be a handwritten card or a present for a milestone birthday, she did this solely for the smile that lit up the room when she handed out her gifts. With her, there was always a piece of advice that you would not only listen to but use. Even in her time of pain, she still had all of this. A tradition that is still carried out in my family today is this: each time there is a celebration for yourself, whether it be a birthday or an achievement, always ensure that there is something for those who are surrounding you. These people are your support. Without them, would you be where you are? There is always more to give to those people – ways to thank them, make them proud, and more. Put everything you have into all you do. Give.

2. Never leaves sour. Always leave sweet. 

It's sort of like the saying for couples: never go to bed angry. But for her, it went beyond this. Grandma Margie ensured that she left each room better than when she entered it. Frowns were turned into smiles. Despair was turned into hope. The list goes on. Through these actions, my grandmother left this earth surrounded by others who saw something in her that I don't think she saw in herself. It was her light that shined, reflected, radiated, and has even grown since her passing in 2011. Choose to make something better.

3. A smile goes further than shedding suffering. 

In her final fourteen months with us, she suffered, daily. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Sterile bed sheets. Loneliness. Inability. But, she didn't see any of this. Instead, Grandma Margie saw the warmed butter croissant she would get at the hospital Au Bon Pain or the newest hat she would find at a local HomeGoods. She would look forward to the presents she could still give her grandchildren and the smile she might bring to the nurse's face with her snappy attitude. Yes, she still had it! My grandmother continued to let her light shine, regardless of her physical pain. She knew, inside, that this is what helped the ones that stood beside her. Whatever the moment had for you, offer something more positive to another.

All I have left is the memory, the taste. Somedays are sour. Somedays are sweet. For all of those remembering their loved ones, I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to remember this when smelling her perfume, hearing her favorite song, or seeing her favorite film: "It crosses your mind, and a smile comes to your lips before a tear to your eye. That's how you know. I promise you; I give you my word, I promise you, this I know. The day will come. That day will come" (Joe Biden, at John McCain's funeral).

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