Dear Nana,

I lost a very special person in my life a couple of weeks ago now, while I am still in a fluster on how I might decompress this, I thought an open letter to Nana would be a great place to start.

To my darling ever loving Nana,

The thought of you no longer with us is a feeling that isn’t settling too well in me these days. I go through phases of both grief and relief. Relief, meaning that you are no longer suffering physically nor mentally, you are released from your earthly duties as a mother, grandmother, sister, Aunty and overall citizen of this beautiful earth we have to inhabit.

Throughout your life you did your best to provide your family and those values soon passed through your children and respectively on to me.

To the naked eye, you came across harsh or stern but as I reflect now, that was perhaps your armour as your navigated the challenges life threw at you. I cannot even begin to comprehend what it must’ve been like raising a family of 4 during a civil war, while also your entire family (10 siblings and parents) having emigrated out of the country decades prior.

I now see why you had to put your bravest face forward so that no one would underestimate you as a “forward” woman.

Whilst the world and our neighbours saw the Jeanne that no one dared to get on her bad side, I had the privilege living with and being partially raised by you from the age of 0-12.

We have laughed, cried, and just sat in silence together in each others company over a cup of tea, listening to your golden oldies whilst you tell me stories of the good old days. I am also eternally grateful to have been disciplined by you as your oldest grandchild (even the time you rubbed chilli in my gums for saying the word “bloody”, even though I got it from you)

I remember fondly your exquisite taste in style. I wonder look to you with awe as you would pick your party outfits. You would let me rummage through your eccentric collection of jewelry and eclectic collection of make up and nail polish. I would give anything to take me back to the times where I would perch on your leg pillows (you would yell at me for doing that) and just watch you get ready whilst, once again, talking about stories from your life.

I never really knew how much those conversations would have an impact on me until you left us. Even though the nature of it was about family gossip or stories from the past, they have manifested in to the person I am. I felt such calmness and approachability when talking to you. You gave me the space to set high standards for me, where then I would come to you to with anticipation to tell you of any achievements I have had (where you would always exaggerate and tell your friends) or the losses (where you would always calmly say “it wasn’t Gods time for you darling”).

I never came out to you officially and before your years of dementia, I feel like you knew. I mean hey, you’re the one who got me dolled up for my first drag debut for a school play. You were so proud of my music and drama endeavors and never once asked when I would start doing sports.

You clapped and danced along when I threw my over the top plays with the cousins as the executive director and producer.

Nana, you just celebrated me from behind and that was enough. You taught me to be fabulous in all aspects of my life. Walking tall with your head held high was your approach to life so that no one could disrupt your soul.

I am still unpacking your loss and how you have shaped me to the person I am today, so this is just a preliminary thank you.

Rest easy nana, I will think of you always, especially when I put on some lipstick or enhance my brows.

Love your oldest grand baby,

Shawno x

Published by Shawn Wimalaratne


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