Losing Grand: Lessons From My Baba, Part One
Here I go again in an attempt to start regular blogging. I’ve been missing from the blogging world for the longest span yet…over a month! Sure, it’s the busiest time of the year (isn’t it?), but there’s never an excuse not to make time for something we enjoy.
The real truth is, I lost my Grandmother, better known as Baba, in November. Although she was 97 and lead an incredibly beautiful life, this was the first person real close to me that passed away. You see, she was much more than a Grandmother. She was the Madrone. The Matriarch. The Head of our ever-expanding and very close-knit family. She had quite a hand in raising us. It hit me harder than I anticipated. And it really did stop me from writing, online anyway.
Then we jumped right into the holiday season & that was it. No more blogs. Here we are in 2012 & I am (finally) no longer speechless.
It is only fitting that I begin my writing sessions here again with something I wish I was able to speak at my Baba’s funeral. Afraid I’d be too emotional, I passed on contributing to the eulogy. (I’m bad enough as it is. Add raging pregnancy hormones & that’s a recipe for a snotty, tear-filled utterance of syllables that no one wants to be witness to.)
Everyone has a story…everyone has titles they’ve gained throughout their lives. Here’s an attempt to share with you what kind of Grandmother my Baba was.
The earliest memories I can recall include seeing Baba in an apron in the kitchen – both at the lake where we spent our summers & her house. In fact, I can even picture her in an apron at OUR house. It’s no secret that she was a phenomenal cook. To add to that, she took great pride in her creations. Every bite was delicious. Just before she died, she told a nurse in reference to her cooking, “It just takes a little thought.” Simple. From what I could see when I watched her day after day, slaving away in the usually very hot kitchen, it also took something else: patience. Pazienza.
What some of you may not know is that she cooked with such love and devotion, we all ended up with our own special part of a meal, and all very full! (And we all had the extra pounds to show it, which she never hesitated to point out!) She would always make that extra jar of chocolate sauce for my brother, have a separate salad with its own dressing for my brother-in-law, and cut up carrot sticks for me, among many other specialties. They’d be chilling in ice water in the fridge after a fun day on the lake. Everyone had something.
Another great lesson learned here: Everything in moderation. Moderazione. The key to a wonderful life, for certain.
They say tastebuds are among the strongest memory of senses. We can all remember her gnocchi, pasta sauce, meatballs, potato salad, and countless desserts. Pizelles, chocolate sauce, cakes and double boiler frosting. Take note: use whole, fresh ingredients if you wish to live to be a healthy 97! Oh, and half a glass of beer with dinner each night. 😉
I was so excited when I could fit into her size 6 shoes (I was probably 9 years old at the time) because she had so many. Such a beautiful collection! Well, that only lasted about 6 months & the next goal became to reach her in height…& that only took a month or two! Her petite 4’11” stature was always tall and beautiful to me though. I guess it was all in how she carried herself, with amazing, indellible pride. Lesson number 3: Be proud. Orgoglio.
She taught me some basic Italian – Italian words & phrases she got a kick out of hearing me say in recent years. “Cuando fai una cosa buona chi voglio cacada sobra.” It’s not really appropriate to translate it at this time…her “kindergarten” lesson for her young family. Ha!
Poco patz – a little crazy
Scimmiotta – a dirty little monkey, sort of. Baba would always call me a “scimmiotta”, which I assumed was a naughty little girl, as I wasn’t the most perfect of children. (Definitely a gene, by the way.) It was only a few years ago that I discovered that “scimmiotta” actually meant dirty little monkey. Hmmm…this is speaking very well of her.
Stai zitta – be quiet (Or, literally, “shut up”. Nice.)
Mangia tu – YOU eat!
Buona Sera, Buona Notte…Good Evening & Good Night. Baba & I would close each visit with this, somewhat of a joke. It became our final goodbye. I cherish saying it now, surely will pass this onto my own children and hopefully grandchildren someday.
You can imagine knowing these terms as a young child. It was like everyday lingo around our homes, yet may have been a little risky to use out in public. Ahhh, I love my family!
When I first started to jot down a “little something”, the memories started to flow faster than I could write. It was quite theraputic for me to sort through these thoughts in the days following her death. So, thank you for listening.
This concludes part one of lessons from my Baba.
There’s so much more to say, but for now, Buona Sera, Buona Notte…