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”
“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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.”