My Nana

My nana passed away on Saturday, March 6th. She had been sick for the last couple of years, and so it was with great sadness and also with our blessings and prayers that we let her go. On Friday we all realized that the end was near, and by the grace of God, all of her children and almost all of her grandchildren and great grandchildren were able to see her one more time to say our goodbyes. It was a sad and somber, beautiful day but I’m glad that I was able to see her and tell her I loved her just one more time. She was an amazing woman, and I wanted to share a poem she wrote. It’s a poem that I think all moms (all parents for that matter) can relate to and I’m proud to say that my nana wrote it.

Here’s a little background…my nana was 81 years old. She and my papa had been married for 61 years (she had been with my papa since she was 17). They had 9 children together, 30 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren. When their children were all little, they lived in Norco, CA next door to my papa’s sister and her husband (they also had a ridiculous amount of kids…something ridiculous like 11, 12, or 13 ) and so between the two families, there was about 20 kids. The children were raised in a commune-like environment. One of my sister Heather’s favorite quotes is that “it takes a village to raise a child” and that is exactly what happened. These were different times – my nana and her sister-in-law even breastfed each other’s children believe it or not!

As a kid, what a great way to grow up…being surrounded by your cousins all of the time. Mind you, these two families alone did not make up the entire family! There were more aunts and uncles and cousins, and it’s still that way today. We have cousins of cousins of other cousins that we still keep in touch with (thank you Facebook). My kids call my cousin’s kids their cousins, and my mom’s cousins and aunts and uncles are all called the same by me; if you come from a big Catholic or Irish family, you understand this. Family has always been important to our entire family, and you can kind of understand why once you realize how many of us there are. When my hubby came to his first family gathering, it was overwhelming to say the least! At 36, I’m one of the oldest, and I have so many cousins (some as young as 4 years old) that even I forget names…I couldn’t imagine stepping into this family having to try to remember everybody!!

I don’t guess that my nana had a whole lot of free time, but when she got one of those rare moments to herself, she wrote poetry. On March 14, 1980, most of her kids had grown up and many of them had already moved away. On that morning, she sat down and wrote the following poem. But she didn’t want it read until after she passed away, so the poem was put away. 30 years later, after she passed away, my papa, mom and her siblings were going through her things preparing for her funeral, and they found this.

And I Am Happy

God graciously has smiled upon me.
He gave me life’s truest riches,
A loving husband, a code to live by
And all you children
Beautiful children,
And I am happy.

Whenever you feel I have failed you,
Please think of me very kindly, then forgive
And understand me
For I do love you,
Have always loved you,
And I am happy.

No school ever taught me to raise you;
I learned it from your Grandmas
Then did it my way with your father
Oh yes, your father
I love your father
Help him be happy.

Don’t cry for me when I leave you
In truth, I will never leave you.
I helped create you. I’m in your children
I know you love me,
Will always love me,
And I am happy.

All this I just have to tell you
Before my body fails me.
While I can write down the thoughts my mind thinks,
Express the feelings
So deep within me
And I am happy.

I think it’s a beautiful, priceless gift that my nana left to my mom and her brothers and sisters, and I only hope that someday I too will be able to sit down and express feelings like that to leave for my children. This kind of gift comes from the heart, and doesn’t cost a penny to create. We need to give our children more of these kinds of gifts, and less gifts that cost a fortune and only get played with until the next great thing comes along. Thank you nana, for sharing this one more lesson with me. I can promise you that I will treasure this poem as if it was written directly to me, and I will keep it to pass along to my children in your honor.

As for anybody reading this, I don’t mind if you share the poem with others, but if you do, please give Dolores Marie Higelin the credit for it….I think that after her long, beautiful life she’s earned it.


  1. What a beautiful woman,I am so sorry for your loss
  2. Kelly Higelin says:
    I don't know how I missed this post the first time around, but what a treasure for me find today. Thank you. We miss Grandma Dee alot.


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