My Nana preferred beads necklaces over gold. She liked dolls and covered every wall in her house with pictures of her children and grandchildren. Her home always smelled of fresh cooking and her TV was always a notch too loud. When I hugged her, she squeezed me tightly. She smelled like baby powder and Irish Spring. When my parents visited Egypt all she ever asked for was candy, Kool-Aid, and Irish Spring soap. On her nightgowns and dresses, she attached a picture of my father. She changed clothes and my dad aged more than 20 years, but always his wedding picture hung from her dress.
This is my favorite image of her. She is smiling with her mouth closed. No matter how happy she was, always she smiled with her mouth closed. Her eyes were the most innocent and lively. She liked it best when I put the eye drops in them myself.
The last time I visited Egypt, me and my nana were roommates. That was five years ago, the last time I ever saw her. She slept in my sister’s twin bed on the other side of the room. We talked before bed if she wasn’t too tired. She told me stories of her life with Grandpa, how he fell in love with her when she was just a teenager. She got married young and lived a life very different from my own. She told me stories about my uncles and aunt and my father as a child. I listened to every story with a sense of enchantment that the no matter how much things changed, humans were always the same. After each story, she reminded me how much she loved me, and I went to sleep a happy girl.
Nana, I will always remember you. I will make pasta the way you always did. I will cherish pictures the way you always did. I won’t lose hope. If I live as long as you did, I will try to look at the world with wonder. I’ll cherish the little things. And the big things. I’ll try not to forget.