Buon compleanno

When I was about 6 years old, my great grandmother passed away. My grandmother, who had devoted her time to taking care of her, decided to sell her house in a city in New Jersey that was, at one time, overly-populated with Italian immigrants. The faces in her neighborhood were changing. Things were different. And my grandmother, who still to this day refuses to learn how to use a microwave, is not one for change. She moved in with my parents and I when she sold her house, and our relationship inevitably changed.

She is a stubborn woman. Having friends over when I was younger was a struggle as she constantly yelled. She hated people touching my things. She hated loud kids. And she did not hide this fact at all. We are way more similar than we are different, so our screaming matches were fierce and filled with tears.

But, at the core, we loved each other. She would sneak me cookies when my mother wasn’t looking. She’d make zeppoles with me during my phase of incredibly unhealthy eating. She’d give me money to shop down on the main avenue. These are things that grandparents do, and she did them well.

I was 15 when she moved to a senior citizen apartment building in town. Our relationship got much better when we weren’t in each others hair 24/7. I would go there everyday after school to pick up a snack before going to work. She looked forward to it. As I look back on it now, I realize that it gave her something to look forward to. Something to live for.

My grandmother has been through a lot health-wise over the past 8 years. Between bouts with cancer, heart trouble, and broken hips, she was soon unable to care for herself on her own. There were lots of family talks and tears this past summer when it was decided that she would have to move into a long-term care facility. It was quite possibly one of the hardest decisions my family has ever had to make, but it was necessary. And, truth be told, she is actually happy there. She loves her aids and nurses. Family members visit her everyday. And we know that she’s safe. It’s not that bad a deal.

Yesterday was her birthday.

She is 90 years old.

I’d give anything to see her live another 90 years.

She’s truly one of the strongest people I’ve ever met in my life.

So, here’s to the woman whose life I made a living hell for 9 years. To the woman who has overcome so much in her lifetime. To the woman who makes the best damn potato and rice balls I’ve ever had. To the woman I slowly see more and more of in my own self . . . buon compleanno, nonna. I love you.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sugarmouse
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 23:24:13

    heartachingly beautiful.

    happy birthday to your gran. such a lovely photo too.


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