Happy Birthday Nana


My grandmother.  My Nana (nah-nah).



It was recently my Nana’s  78th birthday.

My Nana is one of my all time favorite people.  She is loved by many.

Monica's Fam

 My Nana and My Tata (yes, it’s tah-tah)

My Nana is strong.  She has taken care of her immediate family and her extended family for years.  She worked to put herself through nursing school in her early 30’s when my Tata (Grandpa) could no longer work.  At one point she worked two jobs, one as a teacher where she taught English as a Second Language and the other as a full time nurse.  She got up at 6 a.m., taught school until 2 p.m. and then she changed and headed to the hospital where she worked until 11 p.m.  On top of this she had a 30 minute commute both ways.  The kids she taught English to are all adults now with children of their own, but when they see her its like she is their life line again. They hug her and fawn over her because at one time she was the bridge between everything they knew and everything they would need to know.  She stopped teaching a while back but is still a full time nurse.  She has told me before that she has always wanted to be a nurse and you know what?

She has never stopped loving it.

My Nana is soft. There is no place in the world quite like grandma’s. It’s like coming home in the purest sense.  I walk in, poke around the pantry, grab some pan dulce and settle in. It’s like being 5 years old again.  My son has been known to crawl on the couch to nap with her, and it’s some sort of adorable.  My heart clenches every time.  My Nana is one of the most generous people you will ever meet.  Thankfully she has rubbed off on most of us as we are all prone to give the shirt off our backs.

Almost everyone in my family has landed in her spare room once or twice (including me) when they need some sovaco (LOVE) or somewhere to get on their feet. Nothing can bolster a spirit or soothe a hurt quite like being at Nana’s house.

There is not enough room or even the right words to capture my Nana.  There will never be.  She is too big and too much.  Just know if you ever meet her and if you are ever loved by her you are lucky.


For my Nana’s birthday I made a cake.  I would have given her the world if I had the means.  Instead, my husband and I got her a nice new puffy jacket (which I am sure will remain in a closet unworn because she won’t want to dirty it) and I made her a cake.  A cake doesn’t seem like much, but it was an attempt at giving her back a moment of happiness in her youth.


When my Nana turned about 7 years old, her friends mom made her a birthday cake.  She still remembers it.  You can see her eyes light up when she describes it to me.  It was this fancy white cake, tall and filled with grape jelly.  Oh and frosting!  Made with egg whites that you have to beat for days.  And topped with coconut!

Just to hear her talk about this cake…It’s like the years seem to fall away and my Nana is 7 again.  It’s a gift.


If I could find a way to let my Nana know exactly how deeply rooted into my heart she is I would.  When I think of a world without her a knot begins to form in my throat and settles into my stomach.  My soul aches.  Her birthday’s bring me joy because I got a whole other year with her in my life.  Her birthday’s bring me a gentle grief when I think of them passing without her here to celebrate.

This post.  This cake.  This humble, complex, approachable, beautifully comforting cake is love.  It’s a life lived for others, a giving nature, a strong woman.  This cake IS my Nana.


Happy Birthday Nana.  I love you.

Make this Yellow Birthday Cake!

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