I am delighted to announce that Nana's Magic Swing and I will be part of the special event Children and Loss: Navigating the Grieving Process with Youth at McNally Robinson Grant Ave., May 2nd. at 7:30 p.m.
My birth name is Neibrandt. Every summer our family holds a Neibrandt Family Day. We started the tradition of gathering as a family the year following the death of our youngest brother Kirk. Kirk was 50 when he died of cancer.
During his illness Kirk teased our daughter. He suggested they should name the child they were expecting Kirketta. As things sometimes go, Molly (a.k.a. Kirketta) was born on Kirk’s birthday. And, as you hope things will never go, on July 12th we celebrated her first and what turned out to be his last birthday at Kirk’s home. He died on August 11th of that same summer. We honour Kirk and our departed parents and grandparents with this family event and a rather silly trophy for winning an even sillier tournament.
By now you are probably wondering why any of this would merit being written about in a blog, so here it is…
If I could turn back time, this is one of the memories I would roll it back to. The lovely lady in the photo is my grandmother Lillian Blanche Neibrandt (nee Bailey). I was lucky enough to know her as Nana and to live across the farmyard from her as a child and young adult. The baby is our oldest son Graham Denison. Together they form the team who inspired the writing of Nana’s Magic Swing.
Reading Nana’s Magic Swing at North Memorial School this past week gave me a chance to engage with some wonderful kids and staff, but it also prompted me to think hard about the act of reading, which lead to this…
I have been asked many times over the last year and a half what prompted me to write the story of Nana's Magic Swing. There were two things. The first was that many years of working in child welfare and of being a parent and grandparent taught me that it is not always easy to find the words to talk to children about difficult or challenging issues. The second was a conversation I had with our son Graham as an adult.