Every once in awhile, you meet someone that leaves a mark on your life. You are forever changed from having known. Callie Riley … better known as Nana to all of us … is one of those people.
Nana passed away on Saturday night. She is grandmother to my high school friend, Andi. And she was like a grandmother to me. Nana had a laugh that could fill a room. A smile that was meant just for you and a wicked sense of humor.
In recent years she has battled Alzheimers. The moments of clarity and recognition were precioius gifts from above but too far and too few between.
I have cherished memories of weekends at Lake Texoma with Nana and Ken. Grilling, skiing and drinking beer. Ken smoking unfiltered Marlboro Reds while he drove kids around the lake. Nana in her bikini shirt, laughing and filling the days with stories. Evening trips from their house to the Elk's Lodge… where everyone knew her. And the famous Colorado Bulldog suck offs… many of you reading this will have those same memories.
I have precious memories of Andi's wedding, watching Nana beam at her precious girl as she married her high school sweetheart. And years later as she met her great grandbabies. Through everything – her smile shone brighter than anything in the room.
I cannot stop myself from laughing even years later at walking in the Susan G. Komen Race with her after her battle with breast cancer. Most people where sharing touching stories of triumph and their personal battles. Not me and Nana… nope we walked behind the group and sang the following song:
Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie em in a knot? Can you tie em in bow? Do your boobs hang low, can you throw em over your shoulder like a continental soldier, do your boobs hang low?
I suppose to some, the song might have seemed less than sensitive but for us it was freeing. It freed us from fear of illness and fear that she wouldn't be able to fight it the same way she had everything in her life – with bravery, beauty and laughter.
Tomorrow we'll celebrate Nana's life but for me, I'll celebrate her everyday – she brought me her beautiful daughter Missy to be like a mother to be, brought me her beautiful granddaughter's Andi and Ashley – who are like sister's to me. I cannot imagine growing up without her and cannot truly articulate how very much she will be missed.
So, tomorrow night… have a Colorado Bulldog and raise your glass to Nana… its what I plan to do.