Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 11: Grandmom

                            Aunt Annie, Grandmom and Mom                                    
There are people in this world that no matter their age; they are children at heart.  These sensitive people have the ability to connect with a child; to understand what’s going on in a child’s mind and to comfort that child, even when no one else can see that child’s pain. My grandmother, my mother’s mother, was that special type of person. Grandmom Marie was one cool lady who only spoke to us in Italian. Half the time her grandchildren weren’t quite sure what she was saying….except when she was angry, and then...we all recognized the curse words.                                         
Grandmom was born in Naples, but moved here before the start of the Second World War. My grandfather had already been living in the states and worked as a baker making Italian bread; yummy!

 He had a house on Ellsworth Street between 7th and 8th and Federal streets in South Philly, not far from the Italian Market. When my grandfather finally convinced my grandmother to move to America, my mother was already 15 years old.
                                Aunt Annie, Uncle Mario and Mom                           

My grandmother had never adjusted to living here in the states. Her family had money and they owned a beautiful home in Benevento, but God was looking out for her because the house she lived in with my mom, aunt and uncle was bombed during the war, killing the cousins living in the house.
My Grandmother was a strict woman and my mother was the same way, but mom was never allowed to hit us if Grandmom was around. Mom would argue with her mother, saying, “You spanked me.”
Grandmom would throw her hands up in the air and quickly counter, “Stupido.”

I was Grandmom’s favorite, although, my sisters and cousins might argue that point. But I think it was because I was always sick as a child with chronic anemia; she was the only one who could get me to eat the disgusting cooked liver dish that the doctor had recommended my mother make for me every day.
Grandmom was always praying; carried the rosary beads wherever she went. She even did her household choirs while saying the rosary. I asked her one time why she prayed so much. I was 5 years old, but I remember the conversation as if it was yesterday.
                                            Grandmom's actual rosary beads
“I pray for all the stupid people?”                                                                 
“Oh????” I replied. Did she mean me; my sisters, brother, cousins?
“Not you, piccolina?” She replied as she glanced out the door. She was watching my mother park the car. My mother was as bad at parking as she was at driving. The sound of metal scrapping against metal caused my Grandmother to wince and mutter, “Stupido, vaffanculo, and a few other choice word.” Her neighbors were always complaining to poor Grandmom about mom’s driving.
Grandmom died when I was 13. She had chronic leukemia and had an infection that her body could not fight. Her passing was hard on all her grandchildren; we had lost our protector, our angel, our confidant. We never forgot her and the way she made us all feel special and loved. I’m always telling stories about her to my own grandchildren, and when my friends remark that I’m a great grandmother, I thank them, but then I think of my grandmother. It was really she who taught me how to be a Grandmom.  
                                                             Grazie Nonna





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