You be strong. We are strong. Those were the last words I would hear my grandmother speak to me. She passed away a little over a week later. As I come upon the first holiday without her, I am reflecting on what gifts she left me.
My father’s parents were Italian immigrants. They were children of World War II back in Italy. After they married they came to America in 1952 and built a life of family, friends, and memories. Memories that we made over Sunday dinners and holidays. I am so blessed to have had immigrant grandparents. Those special family dinners of homemade pasta, meatballs, lasagna, meat, veggies and salad. Let’s not forget the pastries, coffee, espresso, and fruit for good balance!
Sound like a lot? Let’s just say if you could still breathe and you didn’t have to unbutton your pants after that meal, my grandmother was not happy!
Her legacy was her love of family, bringing us all together at her table on Sundays or any day for that matter. I will always remember her standing at the stove when we all poured in to the kitchen, stirring her sauce and saying in her adorable Italian accent, “KIMBERLY! how are you!”
I always felt loved by her and welcomed. In my days of retail, if the weather was bad, I would stop by her home and at 10:30 at night she would be happy to see me. “Let me make you something to eat!” she would say.
Her refrigerator was always filled with food. She could whip up a meal in seconds that would rival any 5 star restaurant. When she showed me how to make homemade tomato sauce, homemade pasta, or Italian wedding soup, she would say, the most important ingredient is that you have to make it with love. It is no wonder that today I still love to eat homemade meals. Who wouldn’t want to eat love!
My grandparents were my biggest fans. It is no wonder now, that they have all passed on, that I feel a little lost without them. Yet, it has made me realize what is the most important thing in life and that is to have experienced love; love of family; love for yourself; love for your country, community, and friends. When I arrived at the hospital on Saturday night October 14th, I was taken back by all my relatives that were there. We took over her room, hallways, and the waiting area. My great aunts had even managed to bring some cold cut trays. I thought food, now? As the evening went on, and it looked more and more like we would be saying goodbye to her it all made sense to me. My big Italian family were all there because my grandmother was always there for them.
She took her last breathe in a room full of people she touched with her love. She did not die alone.
In the end, that is what life is all about. To love. It takes a strong person to love. Even when life is unfair, scary and hard. Like her, I will always live by her words and her actions. Be strong. We are strong.