When I was growing up it seemed so clear to me that granddaddy was the heart of our family. I assumed that he was the reason that we spent Sunday afternoons here on Hess drive. Then in 1999 he went to see Jesus, and I watched as this family changed. Honestly I was a little bit frightened as to what the future of the Slocum’s would look like. But when the dust settled and the grieving was over there sat one of the strongest, bravest most loving women I have ever known, and she pulled us together and we moved forward.
I stand before you today not only to remember Nana and to honor her, but to celebrate who she was and what she meant to the people that she loved the most, her children, their children and their children. Nana has 5 children, 4 daughter in laws, 1 son in law, 14 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren and we were, beyond a shadow of a doubt the most important people in her life.
She was loyal and loving to all of us. She laughed with us, she cried with us, she was angry when we were angry and excited when we were excited. She shared with us and protected us, she lost with us and found with us and when our hearts or our spirits were broken, she was there to buy a toy, feed us a meal, or to share a cigarette which ever would mend that particular hurt. We all have our own memories, our own relationship, our own version of her story. Mine is the only one that I know well enough to share today, so I hope that you enjoy it.
I have memories of Nana from the time I was very small, sneaking candy to Stephanie and I when mom was not watching, protecting us from a much needed spanking, trips to lionel play world, naps on what we were certain was a real bear skin rug, meals at Sergeant Singers, and then as we grew, spending the night on poker night and sleeping upstairs in the blue room, or the pink room which ever Stephanie and I chose that time. Little Debbie cakes, jars of candy, a lit cigarette in every room of the house, watching her tend to RW’s every wish and wondering why it was that she spoiled him rotten, only later to realize that he expected to be spoiled, which is another story entirely. As a teenager she was at every event, every dance recital, ball game, gym meet, graduation party. Always there in her event appropriate outfit with her envelope full of money in hand and a sweet card to go with it. She was classy, polite but curt at times, she expected good service and the treatment of a queen when she was out and all but demanded it. She was beautiful, funny, and only when I got older did I realize that she was paying much more attention than anyone gave her credit for. She knew everything that was going on in this family whether we thought she did or not.
My favorite years with her were in my twenties. I would come over and sit with her on that back porch and we would both drink 7 diet cokes and smoke a pack of cigarettes. She would tell me about granddaddy when they were younger, how handsome he was, she would share with me, woman to woman and not sugar coat it. Honestly I learned a lot from her about marriage, about the commitment it takes to make one last and how even when things don’t go as planned, you honor your vows and love each other. To me, she was an amazingly devoted to the man of her dreams, and I admired her for it.
The last 7 years with her have been a blessing to Shawn the girls and I. She watched me as I married the man of my dreams, she loved on my babies, she shared in my happiness and that was more special than I could ever explain. She was MY Nana, and one of my favorite people in the world. I am heartbroken that she will not watch the girls grow up, she too was heartbroken that in her words she was “too old to play with them like she played with us” that did not stop her mind you from dancing with Kathryne or getting on the floor to play with Presley. When we visited, she was on, she was sharp and she made sure to enjoy every moment with us and I love her even more for that.
I will miss her more than I can put into words. I will miss her laugh, her stories, her love for music. I will miss the way she squeezes your hand when you reach out for hers. I will miss her big, tough, bossy, personality that God put into that little tiny package of a woman, I will miss hearing her voice and seeing her smile all the way from TN when she answered the phone and realized it was me. I will miss telling her I love her and hearing her say “Hey, I love you too baby”.
It is sad for all of us that Nana is gone, but there are a few things that bring me comfort in her death. Today as we mourn her she is very much alive. Walking hand in hand with the love of her life, and she has wanted to be with him since the day he left us. Together they can watch their great grandbabies grow up and smile watching us struggle as parents, remembering their struggles and how much they loved every minute of it.
In addition to RW she has joined her parents, two sisters and a brother, many friends and two great grandbabies in heaven. And as the mama of one of those babies it eases my heart a little to know that Bennett’s Nana is there now caring for him and spoiling him rotten until I get there.
And most importantly I am certain she is with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ dancing and signing with him telling him about all of her babies that she left behind and waiting for the day that her whole family is together again. Revelation 21 Tells us this about the future And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” In Jesus the grave has no victory. And therefore our sweet Nana is very much alive watching over us, cheering us on, loving us just as she always has. I pray that her presence will bring you peace on the days that your heart misses her the most.