To the end of the count

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Samantha DeForest

“I love you to the end of the count.”

My Nana always said that to me when I was growing up and I was never sure about what exactly it meant, other than that she loved me very much. It was only recently that I came to understand it a bit more fully.

Nana was a wonderful woman who fulfilled her various roles more than adequately. As a mother, she was loving and could bring the chaos of five children to a screeching halt simply by reaching for a drawer that was rumored to have a belt in it (no one had seen it because there was no belt). As a wife, she supported her husband, but expected the same in return, so the day my grandfather retired was the day she stopped cooking.

For those of you who don’t know me, I grew up with both my parents and my grandparents. I spent years at my grandparents’ kitchen table doing homework, in their living room watching soap operas with my grandmother and in their backyard playing with my grandfather. Eventually we all moved into a new house together and “mine” and “theirs” became “ours.”

When I got home from my six months in London, Nana said to me, “I’ve seen you again and hugged you again. I can go now.” She really must have waited for me because she fell in the bathroom one week after I got home and passed away a week later. She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was not shy in telling me I was her favorite, but I suspect she told all the grandkids that.

Regardless of her Alzheimer’s, she was the most loving, caring, generous and faithful person I have ever met, and we formed a very special bond. Her death in June still affects me every day.

But now I can at least understand what she meant all those times she used that odd expression: “I love you to the end of the count.”

Obviously she meant infinity, which can never be reached, so she was telling me that her love for me will never end. But it sounded so weird; it sounded like there was an actual count or a timer like in a game that would someday come to an end. What I never realized, both as a little kid and as a 20-year-old, was that the end could be her death.

Now, I’m not saying I believe in ghosts or anything crazy, but I guess I believe in guardian angels and loved ones who have passed away giving us a helping hand every once in a while. I certainly believe in reminders that help us remember them. I see Nana in random acts of kindness I’ve witnessed; I hear music or see a movie and think of how much she would have loved it; I have to think that she’s somehow behind some of the coincidences and even miracles my family has experienced since she passed away.

It’s those coincidences and reminders that helped me understand what Nana always meant by “to the end of the count.” She didn’t mean the end of her days; she actually meant infinity. She will continue to love me forever, or at the very least, she gave me the kind of love that will last me forever.

I swear that this isn’t just me prattling on simply because I have a column, and I’m not looking for pity. Pretty much everyone can relate to either having a close bond with a grandparent or to losing one. On that level, we can all relate. For those of us who have been lucky enough to have our grandparents involved in our lives, the love they shared will forever leave a lasting impression.

This column started out with a lesson I learned from my grandmother: loving people forever, regardless of all the times they mess up or hurt you, regardless of all the times they didn’t keep in touch the way they should, regardless of their imperfections. And that kind of love is truly special; it is the kind of love I hope I can give to my own family and friends someday.

So to my family, my friends and my loved ones, I love you all to the end of the count.

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