Frank Sinatra is one of my favorite artists because it was my grandma who introduced him to me. Fly Me to the Moon was the last song she sang for me.
When I think of my childhood, I remember cycling down to the school with my friends, buying orange candies from the change mom gives me for the day, and most of all... going home to my grandma waiting at the doorstep to give me a big hug and asking, "How was your day, bunny?"
I grew up with my nana (I call my grandma, nana) telling me stories of the fairies and princesses but also of the wars and how she survived those days. Sitting in the kitchen, as she kneaded the cookie dough on warm Saturday afternoons, she would tell me stories from her past.
Nana was born during the Second World War with a very different lifestyle and childhood from a single child like me. She didn't get to go to school, didn't get a packed lunch but, in fact, had to learn to prepare food along with my great-grandma and do the household chores. Even when her siblings got the opportunity to learn, she would sit in one corner and watch them read and write. But, did she complain? Never. That's one lesson she always taught me.
She taught me to be grateful for whatever things I had in my life, even if it's a tiny little leaf that fell on my book while I completed my homework in the garden. She would say it was meant to happen. When I didn't get selected in my school's cheerleading team, I was very upset but she made me realize that if not cheerleading, something else was out there in the universe that was going to happen for me, and it did. I became a state-level gymnast.
No matter what happened in my life, she was always there with her orange candies, cookies, and interesting stories to wipe my tears away. Sometimes, she even weaved brand new stories. I understood they were just stories and not something that happened, but went with the flow anyway because of how happy she used to get narrating them to me.
If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned my grandpa so far, well he passed away when I was very little, so my memories with him are a bit foggy. But thankfully, I have pictures of me sitting on his lap. Him beaming in his smart, well-ironed shirt and suspenders looking at me and pointing towards the camera, as I smile at him probably trying to understand what he's trying to tell me.
After his death, my nana was alone all of a sudden, but then she took the responsibility of taking care of me. And if I'm being honest, more than my parents, my nana was my everything. She was the reason I had an amazing childhood, with lessons she taught me at every step. She taught me to be strong but empathetic. To be firm about my decisions but be open to opinions. To dream of a better future but be grateful for all the things I have as well. She was my hero... there's no doubt in that.
All the times she pushed my swing, she would shout, "Fly, my little bunny, fly! You're free!" Her words didn't mean much to me back then, but now I know what she meant. She meant that it was in my hand to fly or to be stagnant water. She meant that nobody could stop me from reaching the goals that I had set for myself.
As years went by, I saw my nana vanish, the Alzheimers eating her from the inside. The woman who once refused to call me by any name but her "little bunny," now didn't even remember what my name was. Soon, she forgot who I was, until I sang Frank Sinatra's Fly Me to the Moon. The tiny spark of recognition in her eyes was what I lived for. The little glimmer in her eyes that meant that I was her "bunny" once again.
One day, the glimmer completely vanished from her eyes and that was the day I knew I had lost my nana. She was somewhere... lost, in a place I cannot bring her back from, even if I tried.
On her last day on this earth, as I sat beside her bed watching her fall in and out of sleep, I heard her hum Fly Me to the Moon in a feeble voice. She moved her eyes just a little to see me as I held her hands and said, "fly, my little bunny, fly! You're free!" I burst into tears as I saw a single drop slide down her cheek. That was the last time I heard her voice, but it's embedded in my heart and mind.
Nana took a piece of my childhood with her but left a lot of things to cherish. I miss you everyday, my sweet nana. You were my world, and I know you're proud of me.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article belong to the writer.