I woke up thinking about my nonna

I don’t know why…

So I’d like to share with you a little about my nonna Concetta

She wore black for like 50 years after my grandfather passed away

She used to have really long hair

I remember being a kid and watching her in wonderment comb it and then put in a bun

She never wore it down so I felt like I had gotten a peak behind the wall

She took care of me during the school week

My cousins and I would go home for lunch and she’d be always be ready for us

It’s funny to me now

But back then she never missed a lunch

She always sat with us

She didn’t eat

I don’t know when she ate her lunch

But during our lunch time as we spoke to each other in English

She sat with us

Just being with us

I remember once my cousin was telling a story and said the word ‘stupid’ to describe someone

And she backhanded him lightening fast

Because she thought he had called her stupid

I remember hiding a grin and a laugh

One time my cousins and I took our time returning after school

We approached with a big group of friends

She was waiting on the veranda

Yelling and screaming in Italian

Putting her hand in between her teeth

I can’t explain it

It’s an Italian thing

Anyway

My cousin was so embarrassed in front of his non Italian friends

That he told everyone our nonna was a witch and had just put a spell on everyone

When no one was around she would sit on the couch and play cards on her lap

But as soon as someone showed up at the door

She’d sweep the evidence under the couch cushion

I don’t know why she didn’t want to be caught playing cards

But it always bothered me

Maybe she felt she’d be judged

I don’t know

As I got older I didn’t see her as much

I didn’t speak to her as much when I did see her

Embarrassed by my broken Italian that I had once spoken well

I’d say the usual greeting and whatnot

But didn’t really talk to her like I once had

We’d go visit her and my cousins would be there

We would sit at the table and laugh and tell stories in English

Reminiscing

And she would sit there

Like old times

Just smiling

Being with us

She got sick and older and frail

I went to the hospital to visit her

It was late at night

My cousin left to get us something from Tim’s

My nonna looked scared

I got up and went by her bed

She looked up at me and I whispered

‘Ti amo tanto Nonna’

She smiled weakly

Eventually she got better

She went home

I visited again

I got a text from my cousin

Saying la nonna had died

It actually autocorrected to the nonna had died

That stood out then

Like she was the only one

She passed away at home

I went to see her one last time

I went to her room

Where she laid in her bed

She looked so small

So frail

So unlike the strong woman I’d looked up to my whole life

There was so much I wanted to say

So much I wanted to thank her for

Time had run out

But it didn’t matter

She knew

I just didn’t realize no words were needed for her to understand

She always did

Ti amo tante e per sempre

Calabrisella Mia

When I was 16 (and in the middle of a very black lipstick sorta phase) an old man sat across from me on the subway.

He looked up at me and I remember thinking to myself ‘here we go’ as my experiences with people from my own culture had been so poor.

But this old man smiled at me and said in Italian ‘You must be Calabrese!’

I was so startled as people often judged my person style and assumed I couldn’t possibly be Italian.

I nodded to him that I was.

He smiled and winked at me and said ‘I knew it as soon as I sat down because you have such beautiful Calabrese eyes!’

That old man is long gone now but I won’t lie, he restored so much faith in humanity for me then….maybe still.

Hope Calabrese eyes are smiling wherever you are Signore.

Xo

Ps I got my hair done today and thus the reason for my smiling eyes 😬

Day 3 of 3 (belated) Quote Challenge

Things have been super busy and I missed doing this yesterday. So here it goes.

This quote is a little different for me. As you may know by now I have a penchant for the darker quotes and while this one isn’t light and fluffy it’s definitely different. It evokes many memories for me. This was something from my childhood, hung in my family home and now hangs in my own. This quote reminds me of my grandmother, mother, superstition, culture and folklore. Things I love.

This loosely translates to ‘May whoever wishes bad on this house, drop dead before they enter’.

My family is big on superstition. And we have something in our culture called the ‘malocchio’ which means ‘evil eye’. It is believed that people who have an evil eye can cast a curse on you as a result of their jealousy or envy. Sometimes it is malicious and sometimes not, but the person cursed can become physically ill. There is a prayer that can take the curse away, learned once a year on Xmas eve by someone who already practices it. There’s also a whole espresso cup thing filled with water and oil droplets. I’ve said too much. 😬

I don’t know if I believe in it but I still call my ma to remove the ‘malocchio’ from me on the regular. You know, just in case.

Corni benedica folks