Throwbacks: My Nonna.

My Nonna was, and still is, one of the most influential women in my life, past and present, and as her would-be birthday nears, I thought doing a throwback post on her would be most appropriate.

Truth is, I still miss her every single day. She passed away on May 20, 2009, almost two years ago now, but her death was the closest death in my family I’ve had to deal with (and I realize I am extremely lucky saying this, to have 3 of 4 grandparents still living) and extremely difficult for me and my sisters to go through (but we did it together and it united us in one more way).

My Nonna was a special woman, she loved my sisters and me dearly, as we were her first grandchildren and we grew up with her, watching her cook, listening to her tell us stories of her childhood and playing dress up with us (our favorite? “Here comes the Bride!” marching around the dining room table dressed up in random dresses and shoes), and seeing the joy in her eyes when we’d come to visit (as an Italian, she was always quick to welcome us in and feed us!). The one sad thing is, I don’t truly think I realized how much I loved and appreciated her, nor realized how much she meant to me or influenced me, until she fell ill and subsequently passed away. As much as that makes me sad, I feel her all around me, I think back to her words almost daily, and in that way, I’m still loving and appreciating her, and that gives me some solace (though it makes me appreciate my grandparents on my mother’s side that much more – stay tuned for a post on them coming up).

Anyway, here are some of my favorite excerpts from my old blog on my Nonna. Enjoy.

~~

My special moments with my Nonna, on the eve of her heart attack on Christmas Day:

I visited her for Christmas Eve and it was the first time I had seen her since the divorce situation began. I want to sear this memory in my brain forever, as it was one of my favorite moments with my nonna that I will never forget. She pulled me next to her, as she sat in her favorite chair, and looked at me, and could tell I was really sad. She held my hand, hugged me close and talked to me quietly. She said “nonna is always thinking about you, and praying for you. I love you, you are strong, you will be ok. I love you honey, and am always here for you.” And she gave me a kiss on the cheek, and let me cry, and just sat with me. And it was a really powerful moment for me, and I am so thankful God gave me that special time with her, its significance will never been forgotten.

~~

My favorite quote from my Nonna…and one holds so much meaning for me, then, and now:

“era escrito cosi il libro del destino”

In English:

“look in the sky.  whatever is written in the book of destiny, you can’t change.”

I wrote this post the day the short sale on my house was finally approved, and I could move on towards my quest to becoming ME again, no strings to my marriage or past attached. As painful as it was to let go of that home, it was absolutely the right decision.

~~

Some of our favorite memories of our Nonna…some of these also made their way into her eulogy, verbatim:

  1. eating “nonna soup” (this was the BEST italian wedding soup ever made…never knew it was called wedding soup until my 20s – no lie!) – she would put the soup into brown wooden bowls for us, as kids, and we’d bring them on the porch, and let them cool down, then we’d put parmesan cheese on top, and devour it, with Virgilio’s bread. We would ask her to make this for us all the time – for our birthday, for holidays, whenever she would make it. And she loved it, because she couldn’t believe someone could love “just” soup so much. But it was her soup, it was made with care and love.
  2. hiding under the dining room table, and in the cabinets, playing with pans. okay, this was a really young childhood memory. We were probably 5 or 6, and we’d hide under the table and play and she would peek under at us.
  3. yucky celery – aka fresh anise. We LOVED this stuff as kids, but always called it yucky celery. Nonna loved that, thought it was so funny.
  4. sleepovers at nonna’s. We would sleep over on the weekend sometimes, and in the morning, she would be up super early, making meatballs for Sunday dinner (notice all of this centers around food? We’re Italian, what can I say).
  5. nonna babysitting us. She would lay between us until we fell asleep, and she always used to tell the story of the time we were sleeping but one of us slowly shifted our arm over her head, and held hands with another sister. She thought that was so cute, and it was, we loved holding hands as kids!

~~

These are just a few memories of my Nonna, but they always make me smile and make me feel even closer to my sisters as we will sit and recall some of our favorite stories she would re-tell us often. She was an amazing woman, she united our family, and her namesake now lives on in my niece…who has also united our family like never before. Can’t be much more fitting than that. Nonna, I love you, and always will.

“If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.”

-Claudia Ghandi

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30 thoughts on “Throwbacks: My Nonna.

  1. i love, love, LOVE a good italian wedding soup. what a great (and tasty-sounding) memory. how amazing that you had such an awesome relationship with her – it’ll carry with you forever.

    1. She made it like no other. I’ve tried, but it always pales in comparison. So so good and so comforting and so “Nonna.” I will carry her with me forever, absolutely.

  2. You’re making me cry! What a special post. I only ever knew my dad’s mom and dad. My mother’s mom passed when I was 7 months old from lung cancer. My grandmother (Nanny) became one of my very few friends during a very difficult time in high school. My grandfather passed when I was 14. So I would drive out to Nanny’s and spend Friday evenings with her. Just the 2 of us. I spent SO many weekends out at her house. She was a strong-willed, stubborn, say it as it is, cuss like a sailor lady.

    1. Aww, no tears…though I admit to shedding a few going through those posts for sure. Your Nanny sounds awesome, and just what you needed at that time in your life, in particular. Friday night sleepovers must have been the best, for both of you.

  3. This was nice to read, as someone who will be seeing her grandma this weekend for the first time in about two years. My grandma has dementia and is not doing well. When my father told me she only weighs 76 pounds, I went nuts. I’m praying for a safe trip filled with love. I need that reconnection with her…I’m not sure how much more time we’ll have to do that.

  4. She sounds so special. I’m sure she would be honored that you are keeping her memory alive. I think we all have a lot to learn with not taking our loved ones for granted while they are with us. This makes me want to go hug my own grandparents.

    1. She was so special. Very much so. It does make you want to not take them for granted, but it is so easy to do. I struggle with it often.

  5. Sounds like your Nonna was a wonderful lady and a special person. It really is sad when someone close to us dies, my immediate family are all alive and in good health thankfully but my grandparents died a few years ago and a very close friend sadly died young. Life really is fragile and I guess we never when our time is up and we should appreciate each day.

  6. I had to read this in stages, because it made me miss Nonna so much more, it’s hard to read some of these memories because I missed out on one very special memory…her last Christmas before her heart attack. To this day, it still kills me that I wasn’t there. 😦 You are right, though – our niece has Nonna shining brightly inside her and has brought such joy and love to our family, a true blessing.

    1. It made me miss her a ton too. As for not being there that night, it’s ok sis, please don’t beat yourself up. Isabel – our niece – brings joy to our hearts just as Nonna did, and she always will have a piece of her with her, and us!

  7. Wow. My grandma (Grammie) passed away almost three years ago on May 30, 2008. Your relationship with your Nonna sounds a lot like mine with Grammie. So was Nonna’s name Isabel? That is crazy…Grammie’s middle name was Isabel and we named my son (I was 4 months pg with him when she passed) Ryan Isaac bc Isaac is supposed to be the masculine version of Isabel.

    It sucks that they can’t be here with us anymore but we have the memories! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thanks for the visit! My Nonna’s name was Isabel (first name). wow, how interesting with the similarities with your story. Thanks for sharing!

  8. You are so lucky to have 3 grandparents still living. Sadly mine have all passed but I hang on to their memories so tight. My brothers and I used to take turns getting to have a sleep over with my Grandpa. My Granny would sleep in our beds and we’d sleep in our Grandpa’s bed. Without fail – we would never last the night because of our Grandpa’s snoring. So we’d make the trek back to our room and our Granny would be lying in wait for us. “Couldn’t make the night hey kiddo?”, she’d say. But we’d try again and again every time they visited.

    1. They ARE special. I took the last quote from you and your grandma post awhile back…but I love her italian quote too. Always makes me smile.

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