In Memoriam – Nana Nell Clarke


Just the other day, I was talking to someone at work and remarked how fortunate I have been in life to know all of my grandparents, and to have three of the four survive well into my 30s – with one, my Nana Nell, present in my life when I turned the page on 40. On top of all that – I found it pretty cool that Colin and Aria got to know their great-grandparents to such a close degree and for so long, that there is no doubt Nana Pearl, Grandpa Ron and Nana Nell would live long in their memories. Unfortunately, they never met my Grandpa Ned.

Sadly, I woke yesterday morning to the news that my Nana Nell had passed away in the early morning hours.

I last saw her just a little over a month ago – as her descendants and assorted friends gathered to wish her a very Happy 90th Birthday. At one point during the festivities, I leaned down to talk to her and pointed out across the vast room – populated with so many good friends and family – and told her “All of this is because of you. Without you, there wouldn’t be any of us.”

You leave a pretty cool legacy when you can look across a crowded room and realize that so many of those vital lives could only be possible through the beauty of your own life. That was hers all to covet.

My Nana came straight from England – having met and married my Grandpa Ron as he served with the Air Force during World War II. When I came into the picture much later (1972); she had already settled to the United States and given birth to four children – my Mom Claudette, my Uncle Ron, my Aunt Di and my Aunt Regina.

They settled on the South Shore – so, at the age of 6, when my family decided to move from Everett to Rockland – I saw my Nana and Grandpa with such great frequency. I always marveled that decades later, she held on tight to that elegant British accent. I also know I often turned my nose up whenever she tried to apply butter to pretty much everything she offered me to eat. YES – Even tuna sandwiches. Hey, she was British!!!

When I turned 30, I thought I was a most fortunate guy for hitting that lofty age and having so many living grandparents (3). Today, as I near 42 – I’ve now said goodbye to my last one.

But I always say that the best way to memorialize our dearly departed is to remember the light moments and the laughter. That’s the way I choose to honor and remember and cherish a grandmother who was so caring. Who called me Eddie with such loving admiration and then later switched to calling me Ed out of blind devotion to my whims. The rest of my family could take a cue from her.  Perhaps it was all of the Sox talk I engaged her in that earned me that favor. They were her favorite team and she thrilled when they went and won not one, not two BUT three World Championships in a 10-year span.

In the picture below, she is the woman in yellow, looking over me at my Christening. It’s what she would continue to do the rest of my days with her. And my world was all the better for it.

Rest in Peace, Nana Nell Clarke.


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