A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Saturday, January 10, 2009

They never really leave

My friend, Maria, had a thought provoking post the other day about how she wants to be remembered. It made me think about how I would like people to remember me, but it also led me to the special memories I have of the close family members I've lost.

My Mom: I remember her wonderful smile and the way she had of always making people feel important and cared about. Other memories: Making a bed on the couch for me when I was sick so I could be close to her; always calling me "sweetie" or "honey" when she called on the phone; her ability to make me laugh no matter how bad I felt.

My Dad: His love of music - Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald. The way he would sing Bye, Bye, Blackbird at the drop of a hat. His bouts of clumsiness that led to many stories around the family table and heaps of laughter. How excited he would get when Ed and I went to Chicago to pick him up at the nursing home and take him out for oysters and wine.

Nani Gene (grandmother): The way she always looked at least 20 years younger than she was. How she loved to play with us kids. How she loved to dance. Her really bad cooking (not all Italians can cook). The way she would laugh until tears ran down her face.

Papa Jim (grandfather): His funny way of dancing while holding his guitar to make us kids laugh. How he would pretend he was sick when my grandmother was home, but then spend the day drinking wine and talking on the porch with his friends. The day he left a house key INSIDE the house on a table with a note that said, "I left this in case you forgot your key." How he would tell us to drive the wrong way down a One Way street because, "eh, it's only for a little bit."

Great-Grandma: She was the quintessential little old Italian lady - bun, gold tooth, apron, nylons rolled to her knees. How she would bake bread, make wine, feed the chickens, work in the garden, clean house, and watch her soap operas without slowing down - even in her 80's! How her superstitions led her to believe that a black cat that came to her door once was actually her son who had moved away (!!). How she moved to Tucson because it was so like the Italian village she came from.

Uncle Joey: How he and my dad would have their little ongoing drama about who could get the better color on the tv, who knew best how to fix the radio, etc. His blue eyes and the fact that his name as a kid in Chicago was "Dolly Dimples." His strong arms and him telling us that he was the model for the arm on the box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. How much he adored my aunt.

All of these people are gone now, but they left indelible memories. Memories that make us smile, sometimes make us cry, always make us happy that they were part of our lives. I hope I can do the same for my kids, grandkids, and the rest of the family and friends.


namaste said...

oh sandi what a beautiful tribute to your loved ones that have passed on. even though the things i write about are primarily for me, secondarily for readers, i always feel a little apprehensive after i hit publish. especially if it's about an unusual topic. initially i felt kind of silly for writing my legacy post, wondering what ppl would think. but after coming to your blog and seeing that it inspired this wonderful post from you, memorializing your beautiful family. wow! it feels like a domino-effect of love. THANKS sandi. you are definitely one of the beautiful ppl.

Patty said...

aww what wonderful memories of your loved ones.

ba and the boys said...

my husband doesnt understand how i can just start crying when i see something that my nana/pop pop/others who have passed one. but hearing you remember your family, of course, reminds me of my family and i start crying!
i swear, one day will do our geneology and find that we are cousins!
thanks for the post!

Fleur de Lisa said...

I think I love the part about driving the wrong way on a one way street because it's only for a while. :)

carmella anderson said...

Sandi,Jan 10th has memories about our family members also. some other time I will share them. Your papa Jim and grandma had their little italian quirks between them. He owned the car and she had him patrol area's she knew her granddaughters were going to on dates. Aunt Bea and Sheriff Taylor..

Nikki said...

Sandi first of all I love what you have done with the place!...and second what a great post. Maria is right the great posts have a domino affect and this is so warming to read and thank you for opening up your heart to us! :)N

Navita said...

first time here...n must say u got some real good treasures.. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you will Sandi :)

Luz said...

What a wonderful post! Loved reading this and thanks for sharing. Reminds me of a wonderful songy by Mary Chapin-Carpenter calledm "My Heaven". No, thankfully they never really leave.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Beautiful post! Makes me think of those that are no longer with me.