Few people have a smile like my grandmother did.
New Year City: Year 2, Day 138
Though there are many memories I’ve been turning to in recent weeks, I find myself most often thinking of her smile. My Nana, Beverly Trout Kennedy, was born on January 7, 1928. She was a wonderful woman– a sister, a friend, a wife, but most people remember her as a mother. She had nine sons, one daughter. Ten children. I count myself among 22 grandchildren. There’s also a great-grandchild. Look at her.
My Nana died on December 24th, 2010. Christmas eve. She was 83 years old.
I’ve been looking at that picture a lot. Everyone tells me how much I favor her.
Words aren’t coming easy. I wanted to write about her to celebrate her life, to acknowledge the amazing woman she was, to honor her role as the deeply loved matriarch of our family, but all I can think of is the funeral. Last week, her family and friends gathered in St. Louis to celebrate her. The church was filled.
Her sons, nine men now with children of their own, all easily identifiable as Bev’s boys with their broad shoulders and bright eyes, stood greeting people with pride for the woman their mother was. Her daughter, my Aunt Molly, shook hands with people who knew without a doubt that she was my Nana’s little girl. They share the same generous smile and equally generous spirit. I stood off to the side and thought about the fact that this was the church I’d been baptized in over two decades ago. She’d been there. I looked around at all of my cousins and thought of her holding each of us as babies.
People with friendships with my grandmother spanning decades were there in droves. Women and men I’d never met immediately identified me as a Trout girl and came up to me and, shaking my hand, shared a story about my Nana’s generosity, her giant heart, or one of the many antics she put up with between my former Marine grandfather and her ten children. Not a single person didn’t mention how beautiful, how graceful she was.
It was amazing to hear stories about her I’d never heard before, to think of her and laugh, to remember all of the joy she had in her life. Today I’m thinking of her and hoping I’ve inherited some of her grace, some of her courage, some of her generosity of heart.
She has been gone for almost two weeks. Tomorrow, January 7th, 2011 would have been her 83rd birthday.
I also write this because my family doesn’t yet have the closure they deserve. My Nana passed from complications due to a hit-and-run car accident after leaving a restaurant with her husband in mid-December. They were in Vero Beach, Florida at the time. If anybody reading this has friends or family in the Vero Beach area, please pass along this link to them and ask them to share any information they may have. http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/jan/01/indian-river-county-investigators-looking-for-in/
I’ve been looking at the video that my Aunt Molly made for her 80th birthday a few years ago. There are beautiful pictures of her as a little girl, pictures of her on the day she married my grandfather, pictures of her with her arms full of babies. It’s a nice reminder of what a loving and well-loved woman she was.
Happy birthday, Nana.