Mrs. Finnegan was known to us as "Nana". She was the epitome of great neighbor. It was the classic "borrow a cup of sugar" relationship. But actually more than just a neighbor. Nana really was like a grandma to us. For example, she filled in at "Grandparent's Day" at school.
When I was really young, probably kindergarten aged, she introduced me to the wonderful world of coffee cake. I would make regular visits to see her and get Brach's butterscotch hard candies. We had quite the times together.
By the time my younger brother came along, Nana had moved onto handing out gum. She also abetted him, unknowingly, when he was young and got into some trouble. He and a friend decided it would be a great idea to throw rocks at passing cars. Well, one car came back. His friend took off toward home and my brother ran into Nana's backyard. Nana was back there and my brother asked her not to tell where he was hiding. It turned out, Nana thought he was in the midst of a game of hide-n-seek. When she saw who was "seeking" him, she realized he was in some trouble.
On January 16th, 2006, Shawn and I happened to be in town for a visit. We went over, with some other members of my family, to see Nana for her 99th birthday. She made some comments that Shawn should move back with me from Colorado. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I'm willing to bet my Dad had the traditional Twinings Tea, I believe English Breakfast, and Queen Anne Cordial Cherries. Then, we took some pictures.
Shawn and I went back to Colorado right after seeing Nana on her birthday. In February, when I was back in CO, my mother called with terrible news. Nana had fallen and things weren't looking good. This woman who, at 99 and legally blind, was still living on her own. My mom and Nana's family were regularly checking on, but she did maintain independence. My parents were included with the family at the end.
I will always be grateful for having that last birthday visit with Nana Finnegan.