A few weeks before my grandmother, Nana Bert, died, she asked me to come see her. She was quite insistent-but then, she was quite insistent about most things. She was a strong and often abrasive personality, practically a force of nature. I must admit though, I was curious about why she had asked for me, out of all the grandkids. Did she have something to tell me? A family secret? A confession that I'd always been her favorite grandchild? How she had managed to live to the age of 90?
I rushed over to her apartment and took a seat next to her bed and waited. She knew I was there, but she kept drifting in and out of sleep.
I prompted her. “Hi Nana, I'm here. How are you feeling? I heard you wanted to see me?”
She opened her eyes and said, “Barbara? Thanks for coming. I really need to talk to you ...”
“That's what I heard, Nana. Well, here I am, what is it?”
She whispered, “I need you to...”
“Yes? Need me to do what, Nana?” I leaned in closer.
“I was hoping you could...
“Could what?” I asked, gently.
"Could do something for me..." she murmured, half-asleep again.
The suspense was killing me. What could my grandmother possibly need from me that nobody else could do for her? I waited until she stirred again.
"Nana, what did you want to do?" I prodded.
She gave me a little smile. “I need you to finish cousin Betsy’s afghan...can you do that for me?”
I sighed. “I'll try my best, Nana. You know, I'm not that great at crocheting. Is that all you needed to tell me?”
“Yes, thanks so much. I appreciate it.”
I have to admit I was disappointed she didn’t have some life lesson to impart or something important to say. On top of that, she'd given me a chore, and I do find crocheting to be a chore, since I don't know what I'm doing half the time.
It wasn’t until a few years later when I retold the story after a couple of glasses of wine that I realized those actually were words of wisdom.
My Nana was telling me: stay busy, finish what you start, do nice things for other people and ask for help when you need it.
And now that I've told you, it's not a family secret anymore.