19 January 2012

a tribute

It's been five years since she took her last breath as I held her hand and cried.  She was most certainly one of the most cherished people in my life and I am forever grateful for the time I got to spend with her.  I am blessed to have so many memories and to have had such a special relationship.   There are so many things I wish I could have said to her - so many words that I hope she heard as I whispered them in her ear those last few days.  Just how much I loved her.  How she inspired me.  How strong she made me.   

As with everything in my life when I don't know what to do I run or I write.  The night before she died, when I couldn't sleep, it was too late to run and so I put pen to paper and wrote my goodbye to her.  I didn't know that they would be some of the hardest words I've ever had to say.  I'm not usually at a loss for words - nor shy in front of crowds - but the day I had to say goodbye to her was likely the most difficult time I've ever had speaking.  I'm pretty sure I started three times because I started to cry every time I opened my mouth. I take a moment to read through that eulogy every year on this date and I still only make it a few sentences in before the tears roll.  

As a mother, and a grandmother, she was most certainly the center of our family.  There was at least one of us at her house every day.  It was our place to gather as a family - whether it be on the front porch, around the kitchen table or in the sunroom.  There was always something cooking, coffee brewing and laughter.  When we knew the time was getting close, I started to secretly video tape her when we visited to catch some of her stories on tape.  I wish I could have videotaped her cooking more than anything else.  I wish I had more of her voice.  More of her laughter. Today I sat and watched her last birthday when my sis, T and I went over for cake in the evening.  The total randomness of the conversation made me laugh and cry.  Hearing her voice, her words... When she blew out her candles and said she was wishing to go see Nannu and we begged her to just hold on through the holidays. We gave her our gift of a bag of Sunchips (which she said she was going to hide in the cupboard) she told us that being able to celebrate her birthday with us was like someone gave her a thousand dollars.

She taught me how to cook and when I would ask her how much of an ingredient and she would tell me "you know, enough" or "until it feels right".  It used to drive me bat-wing crazy that there wasn't an actual measurement - she gauged things with a handful or a water glass. And yet, now as I cook or bake it's exactly how I do it.  She is with me always.  Her "i love you's" were in the form of food and as a family we were always well fed. The unique thing is that you can ask everyone in our family and they will have all their own crazy memories of this wonderful woman. 

I will always carry her with me in my heart.  There are so things I miss but the memories I have are more precious than anything.  I miss hearing her tell me about what she had watched on tv the night before - anything from a nice story on puppy dogs (the Lion King), soap operas (in Spanish) and the infamous late night Puppetry of the Penis (eh, maybe it was a piece a wood!).  I miss opening the door to the kitchen and smelling peppers & potatoes frying.  I miss her little white head peering out the window at the back door when you left her house at night. I remember my the day I left for University - I called her just before we left for Ottawa to say one last good-bye.  My grandmother, usually made of steel, cried and asked me why I had to go so far away from her.  She used to freeze everything - even milk - which would baffle me.  She would re-use the bread bag about 100 times before she would use it for trash.  She would also hide Sunchips or Cool Ranch Doritos and sneak bowls at night.  It is those memories and stories that comfort us when we miss you, that bond us closer as a family as we remember.  I do hope that you and Nanna watch over us all and that you are proud of the legacy that you leave behind. Nothing will ever be the same without you.  Ti amo bella. Ci manchi di tutti i giorni.  

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