So yesterday I got an email from my step son, Graham. The whole thing was in Italian. He's been wanting to learn Italian for a while now and in preparation for an upcoming visit he stepped up the studying. How cool is that?
It's more than cool.
Maybe you've noticed the lack of posts in the past couple weeks. Sorry about that. A couple weeks ago I was called to Wisconsin for an emergency family visit. My 101 year old Grandma wasn't well and "it is time" the family said. Actually what everyone told me was, "really, THIS time is it." When you live to be 101 there are more than a few occasions when your family says the words, "I think this is it."
They were right this time. Grandma passed away on Wednesday night.
Grandma long outlived my grandpa. For a while we thought she might out live a few of her children who are now all in their 60s an 70s. Until a month ago, she was still living, alone, in the house she moved into when she got married 80 years ago. Vienna was a wife and a mother. Wait, let me change that, she was an Italian wife and mother. She kept an impeccable house, was an amazing cook, and lived for her family. And she was very proud of being Italian.
It was because of her pride that when, 13 years ago, David asked me where in the world I would like to live I said "Italy" without hesitation.
Yesterday my dad went to her house with his siblings. They had a look around for mementos of their mom that they would like to keep or share with their children, and their children's children. My dad asked me if there was something I'd like to take back to Italy with me, something of my grandma's.
"I'd really like one of her tea cups." She had a beautiful collection, though I never once saw her drink a cup of tea. She liked talking about them.
"And don't forget my chair."
Back when grandma was in her 90's she started talking about dying. Actually she, as many old people I imagine, became a little fixated on what would happen to her stuff when she died. The first time I sat audience to this concern of hers I was nestled in an adorable little green chair c. 1950. A little flippantly I said, "can I have this chair?" Grandma got all excited and told me how she had reupholstered it herself and how she wouldn't let anyone have that chair but me. In the decade since I made my request for that chair, I've become very very fond of it. It's small and soft, really cute and comfortable...a lot like my grandma.
"How will you get it to Italy?" she asked, every time I've visited since.
"Don't you worry about that, Grandma. Ci penso io." (that means, I'll take care of it)
Tomorrow I'm going back home to Italy. Going home a little heavier than when I came, knowing that I'll never see my grandma again, or smell her pasta sauce, or chat with her about how great all things Italian are, 'specially the cheese. Going home a little lighter, knowing that my grandma is now at peace.
I'm also going home to meet my step children and my husband who will all be converging on Maberga for a couple week visit. We will sit on our front patio under the sprouting grape vines, sipping wine, eating good cheese, and enjoying the view of the stunning Italian Alps. And we will speak Italian with each other for which I'll be immensely proud of and grateful to my grandmother for this legacy that she left to me and my family.
Don't worry, Grandma, ci penso io.