There were only 2 hours left in my 32nd birthday when I got the call.
Joe and I had spent the day white water rafting. When we got home, I had 32 roses waiting from my mom. My Nana had gone in to have her dialysis port moved from her arm to her clavicle. The procedure was successful. The family had gone home, and Joe and I were getting in bed 700 miles away.
No phone call that comes after 10pm is ever good. It was 11:01pm when my phone rang. My youngest sister was on the other line. Everyone was headed back to the hospital because Nana had died. Everything had been fine one second; she'd been joking with her nurses. Then she was gone.
Nana was technically my step-grandmother. She and Dado are my (step)dad's parents, but like my dad, they've always treated my sister and me as if we were there own. Nana actually treated us better than one of our real grandmothers who disowned me -- the last grandchild she had speaking to her -- several years ago.
For several years, Nana had been ill. She'd had numerous heart surgeries. Diabetes came along. She'd had so many procedures and pain was a constant in her life. She was never bitter though and never lost her faith. She remained gracious until the very end.
Nana was above all else, a lady. She didn't shout and wasn't ostentatious. She had a deep voice and the most beautiful silvery gray hair. She could play the piano. I loved to hear her play Danny Boy. She took care of her "four boys" (Dado plus three) and delighted in her first natural grandchild and namesake, Sara Katherine, as well as Halle, her second granddaughter, who came along a few years later. The last time I talked to her, she told me a story about her first trip to New York City. She lived a long, full life, and even though she wasn't surrounded by family when she died, she'd been joking with her nurses. She literally died laughing. Can't ask for much more than that.
I hope one day I can have Nana's grace. I hope she knew how much I loved her and how much it meant to me to be her granddaughter, too.