Three years ago today, I lost my beautiful grandmother. As difficult as it was to let her go, I believe that it was for the best. I would rather she be sitting up in Heaven than here with us, suffering needlessly. Today, as I thought about ma belle grandmaman, I remembered this post; I wrote this last Fall, but if I’d had any foresight, I would’ve saved it for a rainy day (A.K.A today).
Every so often I find myself with this image in my head. It comes to me in the form of a Summer day and I’m about six years old. In it, I am standing in my grandmother’s tulip garden on a bright sunny day, wearing a dress, white tights and patent leather shoes. I remember the dress as though I wore it yesterday, yet I can’t quite describe it. I am smiling. I picture my awful haircut – I don’t know what my dear mum was thinking when she cut my hair that short, but it was truly awful (she will tell you differently)! I can see my grandparents’ house in the background – a BIG house with three floors and a basement. This house was huge and had plenty of little nooks and crannies to hide in, but we weren’t allowed in the basement. This image is like a photograph etched in my mind, and in fact, I know I have a photo of this very moment in an album somewhere.
My grandparents’ house was by the river, and we were not allowed to play down by the water because my grandmother always worried that one of us would accidentally drown. The house was partially surrounded by trees and had a long driveway that was almost always filled with cars on any given Sunday, because everyone visited after church. I don’t know how many cars fit in that driveway, but I had ten aunts and uncles, most of whom had cars and kids, and there was always room to park.
The dining room table was something else – it would make any Nonna proud. At least 20 people regularly surrounded that table, and the kitchen was always filled with eating, loud talking and of course, the smell of home cooking. Even the two German Shepherds got a taste of our Nonna’s cooking – they had pasta and sauce on a regular basis, out of these big metal bowls. They were pretty healthy (but scary) dogs. Back then, everyone was a smoker and it was OK to smoke in the house. I remember that the house was not only filled with people, it was also filled with laughter and music. God, I love music – and I credit my mom’s family for that. Thanks to them, I was born listening to R&R, and to this day, I can’t go anywhere or do anything without my music. I should probably add a side note, and tell you that my dad and three of my uncles formed a band in the sixties that became quite popular in Quebec and in the States. As a result of my family’s big love of music, there were very often sudden outbursts of song. The instigator was almost always my uncle R, the rock & roller of the family. He would start singing and everyone would join in, no questions asked. All smiling, happy people. To this day, we still join together in song.
Not surprisingly, there was a piano room on the second floor; that room was one of my favorites because it was mostly all window. It wasn’t very big, but it was cozy. My mom once told me that my grandmother used to go up there and play when she and her siblings were kids. In addition to my piano-playing grandmother, my guitar-playing uncles, and my drummer dad, my grandfather held a special talent all his own: he played the accordion… and the banjo! I think about this now, and it makes me chuckle. I love that my grandfather was a banjo player. How cool is that? I had my very own Italian version of the Von Trapp family – the hills were definitely alive with the sound of music – R&R music with a banjo accompaniment.
It’s true what they say – La casa è dove il cuore è.
So today, as I think about my grandmother, I remember….
She made the most amazing fudge (and roast beef!).
She cut out and saved every U2-related clipping that she came across in newspapers and magazines because I LOVE U2.
She loved to watch So You Think You Can Dance and F1 racing (seriously, who knew!?)
She always spoke English to Anglo friends and family members even though she wasn’t bilingual.
She always signed our Christmas cards with ‘God bless’ (she was a devout Catholic with big faith – so when she said ‘God bless’, she meant it).
She always gave me Ferrero Rocher at Christmas because she knew that I love chocolate (she also had a sweet tooth of her own, and if a box of chocolate sat on the table too long well….. it was soon empty LOL).
She was always happy and she always maintained a positive outlook.
She went to church every week. She gave to the poor. She collected our old clothes and distributed it to the less fortunate.She was generous and kind-hearted.
We shared a love of elephants.
She liked to dance.
She was the glue.
I miss her, but I cherish each and every moment that I spent with her because she rocked.
What do you look back on, and what are some of your favorite memories?