• Ross McKeachie

For Nana Billy


My favourite days are not the busy self-important ones

running around trying to be seen and affirmed.


The days I love are when I sink into invisibility, overflowing

with gratitude for the quiet grace of goodness.


My reclining chair; the creamy-white leather one

that Nana Billy used to have in her living room.


The one she sat in, nearing death, with a tumour the size of a golf ball inside,

lucid, telling brother Ian and I the answer to our question.


The question about her one piece of advice

gleaned from a lifetime of suffering and joy.


“Don’t worry about anything,” she said confidently,

after quietly chewing the inside of her mouth, like she always did.


“I spent my whole life worrying. And I justified it

by saying I was worrying out of care for my family.

But now I see it wasn’t worth a damn thing.

It only caused trouble.

Now I don’t worry about anything.

I wake up each day and I say to myself,

‘I don’t even know if I’ll be alive tomorrow.

But that’s OK. I’m alive right now

and I’ve got a family that loves me

and I’m just grateful.’”


My favourite days, I sit in Nana’s chair

looking out at the trees, flowers, birds,

just like she did.


I’m filled with gratitude.

Naked gratitude.


Gratitude that only the clear sky can have,

every star her centre.


Gratitude that surpasses all justification,

like an act of kindness in the face of hatred

or indifference.


Gratitude that tells me I’m alive on purpose,

like a tree who will die and become a nurse log

to her own seeds.


Undefended gratitude like Nana Billy had,

simple and free of worry.