To My Nani Nine Years Later.…..


Nine years ago today was one of the most emo­tion­al­ly thrilling and equal­ly dev­as­tat­ing days of my life. Just the day before, I had an over­whelm­ing urge to take a preg­nan­cy test, some­thing that had nev­er even crossed my mind before. I was home alone and stared down at those two pink lines know­ing that my life was about to change in the most pro­found way, but hav­ing no idea what that real­ly meant. My first incli­na­tion was to tell my Nani, even before my hus­band or my moth­er. She had been my very best friend for my entire life and I always shared my biggest news with her.

She was very ill, in the hos­pi­tal, and I knew that my time with her was like­ly com­ing to an end. But she was a cat with nine lives and I hoped that she would give us all one more mirac­u­lous recov­ery. After shar­ing my news with The Grillin’ Fool, we decid­ed to head out to see her and tell her about our baby.

For the past few days the hos­pi­tal had been filled with our extend­ed fam­i­ly, vis­it­ing, pray­ing and lov­ing our Nani. There wasn’t a sin­gle moment that a cous­in, Aunt or Uncle wasn’t keep­ing vig­il over her bed. Because of the con­stant flow of vis­i­tors, I had not had a chance to tell my own par­ents that we were expect­ing. I felt a bit guilty, but knew that ulti­mate­ly they would under­stand why I chose to tell her first. I opened the door to her room and wait­ing inside were my three broth­ers, my par­ents and Nani lay­ing peace­ful­ly in her bed. Just my imme­di­ate fam­i­ly, no one else. I knew that God intend­ed for us to share this news right then and there with all of them.

I leaned in, kissed my Nani on the fore­head and said,

Nani, I have some­thing to tell you. I am going to have a baby.”

You could hear a pin drop. There were looks of shock on the faces of my fam­i­ly, but no one said a word. She opened her eyes, ever so slight­ly and smiled.

Oh hon­ey. I am so hap­py about your baby. That makes my life com­plete.”

The next day, she passed away. My heart broke in a way that I had nev­er expe­ri­enced. But even in my sor­row, I took solace in the fact that my final con­ver­sa­tion with her was to share the most amaz­ing news of my life and I knew that she would watch over me through­out my preg­nan­cy.

I believe in God, I believe in mir­a­cles and I believe in signs. I have felt her pres­ence in my life many times in the last nine years. As I was prepar­ing for Hand­some #1’s bap­tism the May after she died, Mau­r­mi brought over the sil­ver cup that Nani had given to me as an infant. It was hor­ri­bly tar­nished and the inscrip­tion was illeg­i­ble. Mau­r­mi scrubbed and pol­ished that cup until it looked brand new. She hand­ed it to me and as I read the engrav­ing, my heart skipped a beat.

Colleen McK­er­nan Dilthey

April 22, 1979

Most infant cups have the baby’s birth date on them. My Nani had mine inscribed with my bap­tismal date. That seem­ing­ly benign date also hap­pens to be Hand­some #1’s birth­day, the boy whose bap­tism we were prepar­ing for. She was there the day he was born, she was there the day he was bap­tized and she was with us in my kitchen as my moth­er and I cried star­ing at that cup.

Life has moved on in nine years and mine has changed so very much, but I don’t think that she has missed a thing. Sure, I wish that she was still here with me, but as I have grown old­er and wis­er, I use that word very cau­tious­ly, I real­ize that you have to live your best life while you are here on earth and your guardian angel will take care of you. When I need a lit­tle boost, I think of her and the won­der­ful things she did for me. I could write a book just about her and the Fri­day nights that I spent at her house watch­ing Love Con­nec­tion and eat­ing peanuts and drink­ing Sprite in bed.

While I miss her like crazy and I wish she was here, I watch her daugh­ter and she has embod­ied the very best of her own moth­er and is becom­ing her. My Nani was at every game, every per­for­mance, every thing that she could be for her grand­chil­dren. She was the ulti­mate cheer­lead­er and we could do no wrong. If you look out in the stands at St. Simon today, you will see that same fierce defend­er of her grand­chil­dren with a smile on her face and more love in her heart that any­one I know. Her name is Mau­r­mi and her grand­chil­dren adore her.

For the first 28 years of my life, I watched my Nani and my moth­er with envy. They had the kind of rela­tion­ship that many moth­ers and daugh­ters dream of hav­ing. I was close to my moth­er, but noth­ing like the two of them. My Nani had been my very best friend and it wasn’t until she was gone that I tru­ly began to appre­ci­ate my own moth­er for the wom­an that she is. I used to be a bit jeal­ous of the way that my children’s faces light up when she comes in the room, but then I remem­ber my own child­hood and real­ize that is the way it is sup­posed to be.

As a mom, I admire her. I know that she learned from the best in the world and I want like hell to be like them. No words can accu­rate­ly describe the way that I feel about my mom. She is my best friend, my part­ner in crime and the source of more laugh­ter than any per­son on the plan­et. Every min­ute that we spend togeth­er is cher­ished. She loves her fam­i­ly, her faith and her friends and will drop any­thing to help oth­ers. I can­not imag­ine what I would ever do with­out her. Many wom­en dread hear­ing, “You’re turn­ing into your moth­er.” To me, it is the ulti­mate com­pli­ment.

God sur­prised us last sum­mer and gave my hus­band and I a fourth baby. Like always, we decid­ed to keep the gen­der a sur­prise, tru­ly want­i­ng noth­ing but this bless­ing. I prayed for a smooth preg­nan­cy. I prayed for a safe deliv­ery. I prayed for a healthy baby. God grant­ed me each of the­se. Unlike my pre­vi­ous deliv­er­ies that all began in induc­tion, with baby #4 my water broke in the mid­dle of the night and we head­ed to the hos­pi­tal despite the fact that I was sched­uled to deliv­er via c-sec­tion a few days lat­er.

After painful con­trac­tions in the hall­way, even worse pains in pre op and mis­er­able pains before the spinal block was in, the surgery start­ed.

Before I knew what hit me, my doc­tor cheer­ful­ly announced,

Oh my God, Colleen, it’s a girl. It’s a girl!”

As I looked at my gor­geous pink bundle of love, I knew that my life was forever changed for the fourth time. I was once again inspired to be a bet­ter moth­er. I looked at my hus­band, both of us with tears in our eyes, and fell in love with him all over again. My heart was so very full. Togeth­er we have cre­at­ed an incred­i­ble fam­i­ly and I am so very proud.

That beau­ti­ful girl, Dar­ling, was named after my Nani and Mau­r­mi in the hopes that she will pos­s­es their spe­cial breed of mox­ie. I know that she is des­tined to make her mark on this world. Every day, I look at her sweet lit­tle face, and I hope that she and I will have the kind of rela­tion­ship that my mom and I and she and her moth­er had.

Nani, nine years has lit­er­al­ly been a life­time for me. I was just a girl when you left me, now I am a moth­er of four try­ing to get it right. You cer­tain­ly left an impres­sion on the hearts of those who knew you. Believe it or not, peo­ple still talk about you and your con­stant pres­ence when we were grow­ing up. It has not gone unno­ticed the impact that you had on your baby girl as she has tru­ly embod­ied your spir­it and con­tin­ues to make you proud con­tin­u­ing your lega­cy as the best grand­moth­er out there.

I miss you more than ever and I wish I could have you back for just one day to laugh and smile and eat of loaf of jel­ly toast in your kitchen. I know that you will con­tin­ue to watch over us all and to bless each of us in your spe­cial way. I love you so and appre­ci­ate what you have helped me to become more than I could ever explain. She is a fire­ball with smil­ing Irish eyes and I promise that your name­sake will do you proud. I can’t wait to see you back in two and two.…..

4 Comments on To My Nani Nine Years Later.…..

  1. Debbie Worn
    August 8, 2016 at 8:05 pm (1 year ago)

    An absolute­ly beau­ti­ful trib­ute to two fine wom­an in your life. You brought tears to my eyes. Your Nani did for you what I am striv­ing to do for my grand­chil­dren: make life-last­ing mem­o­ries that will stay with them after I am gone.

  2. Diane Davis
    August 8, 2016 at 10:07 pm (1 year ago)

    What a beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten com­men­da­tion.

  3. Gail Wilson
    August 9, 2016 at 3:43 am (1 year ago)

    Tears run­ning down my cheeks. I woke up this morn­ing think­ing of my own mom before I read this, so it has even more mean­ing today for me. I miss her, but know some­how she’s with me. Nev­er stop writ­ing, Colleen. You tru­ly have been given a gift.

  4. Alexandra owens
    September 18, 2016 at 7:27 am (1 year ago)

    I love this! Beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten and shared.


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