Martha Mary Humphrey was born in Toronto on May 29th 1925. She went by “May”. She met my grandfather, Albert Kenneth Milway in the early 40’s and they were married in June 1943. Theres was a love that was never-ending. My father was born in February 1944 – please don’t do the math, we are well aware that it’s only 8 months from June to February. 😉 It all worked out because my grandmother and grandfather were happily married until his death on July 17th 1986. My grandmother loved 6 other people as much as she loved my grandfather – my father, my brother, myself and her three great-grandchildren.
I never in my entire life doubted her love for me or her family. About 4 years ago, my grandmother suffered from dementia and we made the difficult decision to move her into a nursing home as she was on oxygen full-time. As much as we could visit we did, but it never seemed enough, it wasn’t enough. On Monday November 7th 2011 my grandmother passed away. A part of me died that day. I knew it was coming, I knew it was what she had wanted for 25 years since my grandfather’s death. The death of someone you love – someone who gave her whole life and love to you – is never something you can be prepared for or okay with. Instead of talking about her death, I am going to share memories I have of her.
After my grandfather passed, I spent many weekends at her home. We would go shopping at Thoncliffe mall. We took the bus and would shop all morning until breaking for a cup of tea and a sprinkled donut from Country Style. My grandmother would take me to Coles bookstore and I would sit on the floor and read the backs of books for over an hour before choosing which ones my Nana, as we all called her, would buy me.
My grandmother knew I was a picky eater, but she rarely ate out so she would cook me breakfast sausages, canned corn and cut up cucumber for dinner. Now I am WELL aware how disgusting this all sounds. Add some pineapple juice and a butterscotch pudding for dessert and it was, looking back, pretty gross. But I loved it and I loved her. I had so many wonderful days and evenings with her. While she was “cooking” my dinner, I would watch her favourite soap opera The Young and the Restless and let her know what was happening since she couldn’t see it because her kitchen stove was not in viewing of the livingroom tv.
Another thing I loved was spending Fridays at my grandmothers. She would always go to the hairdresser and when I was with her, I would get my hair done too. Louie was our hairdresser. He was Italian, and he loved my Nana and me. he would always tell me funny things to say to her in Italian, most of which I never knew what I was saying. We always had fun and he would always do whatever I wanted – cut, curl, straight…it was a blast, I was sad when he retired and we stopped going.
There was times when I just loved talking to her – even when I had nothing to say, but knowing she was on the other line was comforting. It got to where I would read her books over the phone. I can only imagine how boring this was to her. I loved to read though, and she always listened. She would talk to me about these books so I know she was listening. Who does that??!!
That’s who she was though, a saint really – at least in my eyes. She loved children and she loved her family. I like to think I have some of her best parts in me, that she will never really be gone because her memories will live on in me, and my father and my brother and her niece, my Aunt Sharron. Together we will be a family and keep her spirit alive.
We buried my grandmother on November 10th – a day that would have been my grandfathers 90th birthday. We gave her back to her husband, a man who adored her. The best birthday gift we could have given either of them. They were made for each other – born to be together.
Love you Nana, always and forever
XOXO Nikilee – granddaughter