My earliest memories of Dana (grandmother) Christina are of us playing in the grass outside our home. Despite being my paternal grandmother Asin’s youngest sister, and therefore my grandmother as well, she possessed joie de vivre so infectious that as a child of about five, I found it completely normal for her to be rolling around the grass with me. When she laughed, the deep, throaty sound brought a smile to those of us fortunate enough to call her grandmother. I was named for her older sister, and she always referred to me as Nyamin, sister.
She was also quite stubborn and strong-willed. There were several times when we would have a conversation, and, due to generational differences, we would have varying opinions. She was never one to shush me simply because I was her grandchild. She heard me out, but eventually would remind me that she had lived with her older sister (my namesake) and her husband, and had helped raise my father, and therefore had seen more things than I had. I, being a child of the 80s had not seen enough things, therefore the conversation was over. She chided with a gleam in her eye, a smile never too far from her wrinkled face.
The gleam in her eye belied the blows that life had dealt her. She truly lived with a “glass full” perspective. Asin, Christina’s older sister and my namesake, died suddenly, leaving Christina without her best friend. Because Dana Asin passed away before I was born, I was named after her, and Christina’s vivid narrations brought her to life. “You look exactly like my sister!” Christina would exclaim when she saw me.
As old age crept in, Dana Christina suffered the aches and pains that come with time. She complained about her leg, it hurt. She couldn’t walk as fast as she could in her youth, but she found humor in the aging process. You see, the reason you couldn’t walk as fast in your old age was because you had grandchildren to send. When I was getting married, her main concern was, who would come and get me if something happened to me all the way in America?
She was very close to my mother. She always said that she found a daughter in her. “Kama si yeye, sijui” (if not for her, I wouldn’t manage).
In 2014, she suffered a debilitating stroke that left her unable to walk or speak. Nothing could be done, other than for her to receive care at home. She wanted to be in her home, not anyone else’s. Family and friends rallied and chipped in. Mama Diana, a family friend, devoted herself to sending me constant updates.
On the morning of February 20, I awoke to several missed calls and messages. I knew in my heart that something was wrong. Then I heard the news. Dana had gone to her rest. Fare thee well Nyamin. Your laugh, your joie de vivre and the gleam in your eye live on in those of us who were fortunate enough to call you our own. And when these tears dry, we will be at peace, assured that our world is a better place because you were in it.
We laid Dana Christina to rest on Thursday, March 8, 2018. Fare Thee Well Dana.