"I think I'll go to Bingo tomorrow night. What do you think, Penelope?" my Nana asked as she passed around platefuls of food at our usual Sunday dinner.
Penelope was one of the nicknames she gave me - along with Gertrude, Matilda and the Nana classic, Pumpkin. She'd been calling Rich, her son and my uncle, Pumpkin since he was in first grade and somehow, it got passed down to me.
"I don't know, Nan. Are you feeling lucky?"
She put a spoonful of mashed potatoes in her mouth and flashed a wide, almost mischievous smile, as if to say, "Hey, I have to live it up too, right?"
It happened every Sunday, but this wasn't just any smile. It was a grandparent's smile. It was a moment I wanted to catch in a bottle and keep forever.
I thought that chance would come 10, maybe even 15 years down the road, but I've never been the best at looking into a crystal ball.
The first time I saw Nana after her unplanned heart surgery in early February, she still looked like the same angel I'd known for 26 years, but her upbeat, Bingo-playing personality wasn't there.
I called her name, thinking she just didn't hear me. Her face didn't light up like it always did when she saw me - or any of her six grandchildren. At that moment, I knew something was wrong.
One nursing home, two hospitals and 12 weeks later, I stared at the woman who always put the writer before the wheelchair.
She was lying in a bed - in Ebensburg this time - with her eyes closed.
I waited in the sunlit room with my Mom for Nana to recognize we were there, as we had grown accustomed to.
She did open her eyes after several minutes of listening to Mom's voice. I pulled up beside the bed and instinctively went for her hand, but couldn't hold it like I did almost eight weeks earlier. It swelled like a water balloon, as did the rest of her body.
A week later, my Dad told me that Nana went to be with her husband - my grandfather, who had been waiting nine years to see her again.
It hasn't even been a full two months since her passing, but my family and I are sure there's a family reunion happening right now.
I've always believed that all the things my grandfather taught me about being human - from smiling through tears to wiping my mouth after I eat - he passed onto my Nana to re-teach to me in her own way.
I can't say I've been neat when I eat, but I can say that the lessons I've learned from my grandparents are second to none. I hope they're my ticket to Heaven someday.
In the meantime, Nana can get back to playing Bingo and having Sunday dinner, but not just with any angel - her angel.
Due to the overwhelming amount of mixed responses I've received regarding the March edition of The View from Here, "Personal care aides should help, not hinder" I'd like to clarify my intention for writing that piece was not to attack anyone or expose the school system in a negative way.
While I'm grateful for all feedback, the installment was meant to be a personal account, even though it's been awhile since I have been in junior high and high school, of having a temporary fill-in who was not suited for the position. I still keep in touch with many of my aides and am an advocate for all special education aides, as they are now called.
Erin Kelly, 26, was born with cerebral palsy in Seoul, Korea and now lives in Altoona. She is a 2009 graduate of Penn State Altoona. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.