Monday, January 21, 2008

Che Signora

It isn't lost on me... that I just heard on the news earlier that today is considered to be the most depressing day of the year. I laughed it off, thinking how bizarre it is that too much winter, too much cold and too much holiday debt could be added up and given a "day".... yet I've been fighting the "winter blues" for a while now. Not as bad as last year mind you, as the daily school situation is better.. but it's always there, mulling around in the background. The sun is out today, which helps. If it wasn't so effing cold I'd bundle up and have a walk.. as part of my winter issue is not enough fresh air and 'outside' time. Frostbite warnings aren't anything to be taken lightly and so I'll enjoy the sun from inside my warm cozy house.

January 3rd was my Nana's birthday, and of all the people in my life that ever made me feel important and special (aside from my wonderful husband) ... my Nana was it. My grandmother died when my mom was 17, and my Nana took her in and took care of her. As my mom is an only child, and I am the only daughter she had, I had a special place in my Nana's heart. She was a helluva woman. She would come over when my younger brothers were wee babies and care for us when my mom was too sick to do it. (my dad never stayed home if my mom was sick... one more thing I appreciate my dh for) I remember one time when mom was really bad off and Nana was over and my brother Scott and I were playing a "duet" on the piano in the living room. The piano came from my grandfather who was in a nursing home with Multiple Sclerosis and we would sit there forever and play songs that were awful... but thought we were the most clever people in the world. Anyhow, there we were, right outside of my parents bedroom door, playing our little hearts out and my Nana came in from the kitchen hollering something at us in Italian and the top of her lungs (she was a short lady.. barely five feet tall, but she was a force to be reckoned with) and the best I could make out was that she wanted us off that piano now!

When she was no longer able to live on her own, and refusing to come and live with us... she went to live in a nursing home also. I still can bring the "sick smell" of that place into my senses every time I think of being there. I remember her little room, and the photos she had crammed in there, along with her baby Jesus statue and eleventy hundred crosses and rosary beads. I would go with my mom to visit her, but it seemed we didn't get to see her often enough. Every year we would treck out there on holidays and pick her up, and take her either to my grandparents (on dad's side) house, or to our own house. When my Memere (great grandmother on my dad's side) was still alive, the two of them would sit and chat for hours.. nana in her broken Italian and Memere in her broken French and they understood each other perfectly. She had this black plaid jacket that was made of wool, and came down to her knees, and she would never let us buy her a new one. One year my mom bought her a new cardigan for Christmas, and she threw a fit, because her old ratty one was just fine thank you. (she spoke broken Italian... mixed in with a little English, but you always got the gist of what she was saying). As she got on in years, she began to mix my mother up with her mother, and me up with my mom. We'd just smile and let her believe what she needed to. But it broke my heart, and I spent a lot of car rides home in the backseat with tears in my eyes.

She died in early May, a few months after my son was born. We were planning a visit out to see her, to introduce her to her "great-great grandson".. and she died during the night of the day we were supposed to visit. I'll never forgot my mom shaking me awake that morning, crying and repeating "she's dead" over and over. I thought she was talking about my father and I shot up like a bullet, to find out that the most wonderful woman I had ever known had passed away in her sleep at the age of 97.

Every January I take out the old photo album my mom gave me when she left, that contains the precious few photos she took with her when she finally left her dad.. afraid to take too many of her mother's belongings for fear of what he might do... and flip through photos that are starting to fade with age. Pictures of my Nana's brothers and sisters and their siblings. Photos from Italy, and the tomb where her brother Pepino was laid to rest. Pictures of the boat she came to America on, and of her standing next to the water, excited about the new life she would have. I wish I could remember the stories that she used to tell me, and I wish that I had been smart enough back then to write some of them down.

Buon Compleanno Nana! Li manco molto. Sonno bene con el dio. Ti amo.

1 comment:

tspwlv said...

She sounds like such a special lady, someone right out of a movie. You're lucky to have had her in your life.