Nana – Good News for March 8

8 03 2009

Happy Birthday Nana. 

Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

The Daily Path: Today is the birthday of my late grandmother, Florence Irene Kindlen, or as she was known to me and the rest of her grandchildren… Nana. Every March 8, Nana and I have a little birthday chat, just as we did when she was alive, because my birthday is the following day. I do the talking, but I know she hears me. Occasionally I will “feel” her response. I want to share a little bit about Nana because not only was she the best grandmother who ever set foot on this earth, she was also an example of living a Godly life.

When Nana married her beloved Irishman, Jim (James Aloysius) Kindlen, she did not share the Catholic faith of her husband. Nor was she compelled to run out and enlist. However, she raised her children as Catholics. Years later, Nana did convert to Catholicism and held a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Each Sunday, and often during the week, she would attend Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica, sitting directly in front of a statue of the Sacred Heart while faithfully praying for her family. I can assure you that there was much to pray for!

Nana always wore two things that became her trademark… a hat and a smile. That smile could melt the hardest heart. She tirelessly raised money for the parish schools and was genuinely loved by everyone who crossed her path. When her little gold donation box came out, wallets opened. Her unpretentious charm disarmed friends and strangers alike. No one could resist her.

After Grandpa died in 1957, my grandmother began to travel around the U.S. with her siblings. She loved to take trips. As a boy I would spend hours watching travel logs with her on the black & white TV. She always sent me postcards, even when her trip was just across the bay to San Francisco. I still treasure those cards to this day. Nana didn’t drive but she got about quite nicely riding the AC Transit bus system. The drivers all knew her by name. She’d take me to Oakland back in the day when it rivaled San Francisco with its major department stores and bustling downtown. Our excursions would always include a stop at the toy department and lunch room at Capwell’s Department Store. We’d sit amidst the fashionable “ladies who did lunch.” Nana would have a cup of tea and I’d have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chocolate milk.

As the times grew more dangerous, she became a target for thieves who preyed on senior citizens. She was mugged by purse snatchers on three occasions as she waited for the bus. Although injured by these violent acts, I never saw her hardened by them. I can only assume that it was her great love and unwavering faith in Jesus that enabled her to forgive. If there was ever an example of living forgiveness, Nana was it. She just wouldn’t allow herself to harbor hatred. I think that was part of her charm. The genuine twinkle in her eyes showed love. Her smile offered shelter.

Eventually Nana stopped riding the bus, although she remained active. Her young friends (in their 60’s) would still drive “The Sunshine Chairman” about. She continued to take shorter trips with the local senior citizen groups. Florence Kindlen was 96 when she passed away after a short illness in November 1991. There is no doubt in my mind that the gates of Heaven were immediately opened as she left this earth on the Express Bus. And I know that Jesus was waiting to welcome her at the threshold because in life she listened to Him and lived what He taught. 

Happy Birthday Nana. I love you.