Tuesday, February 8, 2011

See You In the Funny Papers!

“See you in the funny papers!” I can still see the grin on her face as she slowly closed the door behind her. This was my nightly evening farewell from Nana. It’s also one of countless heart-warming memories I have of my dad’s mom who recently went to be with the Lord. Nana knew hundreds of songs for kids like, “Skinnamarink" and “Oh Susanna”. She played the guitar for us. She had the most beautiful whistle you ever heard and often whistled familiar hymns while she worked in the kitchen. She made amazing fudge. Oh! And homemade strawberry jam…oh. my. word. She had an infectious laugh and seemed to believe it her life’s purpose to make all those around her find their smile…even if they were perfect strangers. It didn’t matter who you were. Nana would hold up a line at the fancy Petroleum Club buffet just as easily as the check-out line at Piggly Wiggly to make you break into a grin. No one was safe.

Nana loved her family and taught us to do the same. She had a family “photo wall” and passed down stories of folks in our family we’d never met but look forward to someday. Nana showed us that when it came to spending time with family, the venue was of little importance. In fact, while we did spend time eating out at the likes of Antoine’s in New Orleans, we felt equally at home eating on paper plates bolstered by wicker plate holders and drinking iced tea out of plastic cups inscribed with our names in “Sharpie”. Nana taught us what was important – simply put: how much fun we had with each other and how much love we had for each other.

Nana had an undeniable passion for the Lord. She also had a humbling openness about her ignorance of Him. She always said that when she died she would be holding up the line in heaven as she asked Jesus all her questions. I’m sure the line is backing up as we speak.

These memories are priceless treasures to me. And as I grieve Nana’s death, I harbor a fear that these gifts of her life to mine will fade over time. More than that, I am saddened at the thought that my kids will never know her.

And so it is that I am compelled to something profound. In order to remember Nana, and help my kids to know her, I must honor her life by fervently living out her values. I will certainly tell my kids stories of her, just like Nana told us stories of her grandparents. But I will also try to live out each day emulating the loving, joyful and easy-going nature of her character that I so treasure. I will try to do these things to remember her. I will do these things in remembrance of her.

Seems I’ve heard that turn of phrase somewhere before…

I guess that’s what you do when you love someone so deeply. When you meet someone who so completely touches and transforms your heart, and then you lose them, you cannot help but respond in such a way that you pick up the torch for them. The light of their life has made such an impact on you that you must tell others of its beauty in the hopes that they too will respond in remembrance of the One you love. Thanks to about twelve fellas some years ago who did just that, we are still picking up the torch of the One today. Thanks to those fellas writing down and telling their stories in remembrance of Him, I know that Nana is no longer suffering, but celebrating. Thanks to those fellas helping generations to remember and know the One, I have faith that we will see Nana again someday face-to-face. And I know that because of the things I do in remembrance of her, my family - including my boys - will recognize her when we do.

Until then, Nana my love, we’ll see you in the funny papers.

**The launch of this blog, “Faith by Firelight” is dedicated in the loving memory of my Nana, Catherine Stewart Rust, one of my most favorite story-tellers.


  1. Kate, with you as a mother I have a funny feeling that your kids will know Nana and know her well. Grace on ya and you keep up the writing. Mosquito Fred.