It's hard for me to believe that it's been three years since I lost her. One of the most important people in my life, my Grandma. I'm lucky, so so lucky I had her for as long as I did. I was 42 when she passed away, she was 99. October 1, 2008. Only 3 weeks from her 100th birthday.
I've written about her before, several times. One of the things I wanted to accomplish with this blog was to let others know her too. If only everyone could have known her in person. She was so beautiful, so funny, so smart, the best cook ever, someone I could tell anything to, someone who never ever judged. So often I find myself wanting to talk to her, ask for advice on some things, cook with her, eat with her, just be in her presence again. Any time I was with her, I felt like the luckiest person alive. I so wish I had an answering machine message from her saved somewhere. They always made me smile and went something like this....
"Lalia, Can you come and take me to Gallucci's?
This is Grandma, I love you."
Remembering that, hearing it in my head, makes me very emotional. The message wasn't particularly clear ever. She never would say when she wanted to go or anything like that. She didn't mince words. I'd just call her back and we'd figure out a time to go. Gallucci's, by the way, is the greatest Italian foods store in Cleveland. And when we went there it was heaven. The aroma of the place is intoxicating. I want to wear it as cologne! I loved going with her. Everyone knew her, everyone took care to make sure she got the best of what she was buying, and we always had a feast when we got back to her house. We would sit at her kitchen table with a little wine or maybe some espresso, and then start opening our bags and laying our feast out on the table. Delicious crusty bread that you pull apart with your hands, five or six different kinds of olives, super sharp provolone and fontinella, salami, pepperoni, capicola and sopressata. Absolutely the best.
I miss those days with her. Just her and I. We talked about everything. She told me stories about her life that always somehow related to something I was going through or having trouble with. She was so smart and so intuitive. She loved her family with a fierceness that really doesn't seem as prevalent today. I don't know that I can explain what I mean by fierce love, but I'll try. When she loved you, she held you close to her heart. You knew. You knew you were in there and there isn't a better place in the world to be. And no matter how she was treated by other family members, because yes, there were people in our family who didn't treat her with the respect she deserved, she loved and held everyone close. She only wanted everyone to get along and be together. It didn't always happen. But I can say we tried, for her sake. I can't say the same for others and still can't, as fights and lawsuits continue so the greedy side can get what they seem to think they deserve. Death sometimes brings out the very worst in people.
But for me, I continue to honor her from the tattoo of her on my arm to wearing her wedding band every day. Whenever I put it on I think of her. I feel so lucky that I get to wear it now.
Yes, I'm lucky. I'm lucky I had her in my life for so long. I'm lucky she lived so close to me. I'm lucky that she loved me. I'm lucky that I learned as much as I did from her, even though I wish I could have learned more. I don't think I would have ever stopped learning from her. I wish everyone could have known her.