Monday, January 6, 2014

When you marry someone you marry their family. It's more of a merger than a coupling. This is a great thing if the family's not all that crazy. To have your circle of those who love you grow is a wonderful thing.

But there's a downside. The more people you let into your heart, the more holes that are left as people slip away.

The father figure brought into our marriage a most remarkable woman. Nonna emigrated from Italy when it became clear Mussolini was bad news. She married, raised five children and enjoyed eight grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.

She was the epitome of maternal. She fretted and loved and soothed. She spoke the language of food and spoke lovingly. If you weren't eating, she was concerned. She told me to stop chasing my toddlers and sit down because my coffee would get cold. And I needed to have a cookie while I sat.

And that was Nonna. Everyone loved her. Everyone felt loved by her. When I told my mother that Nonna had passed my mother exclaimed "Oh no, we love her!" They had only met her once, at our wedding, and yet she touched their hearts. It takes an extraordinary woman to move complete strangers like that. But Nonna was an extraordinary woman.

Nonna's life wasn't easy. She left home to start anew. She buried two children, one as an infant, one as an adult. But she didn't let it defeat her. She didn't choose to engage in self pity. She chose to focus on those who were still there with her and to embrace them fiercely.

I didn't feel like an outsider when I was with her. I wasn't an expansion member in her life, I was family. I was her grandson's wife and so I was her granddaughter. She made it so easy to feel comfortable and at home with her. She was the personification of love. One of the last times I saw her, she gave me a kiss and said "You are a good mother."  I'm not often moved to tears, but those words meant the world to me.

After Baba was born, we made a point of taking the kids down to see their great grandmother every year. It was a hassle. Long drive, young children, not much of a vacation. But my children got to know their Nonna. They got to have her arms wrap them in love. And they will know those arms when they feel them again.

May perpetual light shine upon her.


  1. What a beautiful tribute. Prayers for her eternal rest.