Monday, February 10, 2014

MammaNon (My Grandmother)

She was there for my first breath; my grandmother (aka MammaNonna; I called her MammaNon)

I was one of the lucky ones. My grandparents lived with us. Yes, it was a full and busy household, but it was rich; with family.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with MammaNon. I hung off her apron strings learning the art of pasta, pizza and sugo (sauce) making. We shared many breakfasts and lunches alone, together. She insisted I have my egg yolk with sugar and marsala every morning and a few sips of red wine at lunch (to put a little colour on my face LOL :D I watched her hands hard at work, gardening, peeling fruits and vegetables, preparing meals, cleaning... I sat with her and watched Lawrence Welk, Johnny Lombardi, Donny & Marie, Jesus of Nazareth, Tiny Talent Time.  She took me to church and on bus trips downtown. She held my hand and kept me close. I became a part of the neighbourhood ladies gatherings and colourful conversations. We laughed, we loved and she shared bits of wisdom at just the right time.

I got older and so did she.

Our bond only got stronger as I married and had children. What a gift. My children would have the honour of knowing their great grandmother!

Then it happened. There were some signs over the years but it wasn't until MammaNon fell and broke her hip that it made its appearance, Alzheimers. Life as she knew and we knew would change. The difference was we remembered and she didn't.

I watched the transformation. This strong woman, both mind and body began to weaken.  MammaNon came to live with me for some time while my mom had surgery. We shared many breakfasts and lunches alone, together. Our conversations hinged on the clarity of her memory. She watched my hands hard at work. We sat watching some of the programs I knew she used to enjoy. I took her on short walks. I held her hand and kept her close.  We laughed, we loved and I told her everyday how much I loved her. When I tucked her in bed at night, she looked at me with her tear filled eyes. If she remembered me, she would tell me how grateful she was that I was caring for her and I would tell her how grateful I was for her.

Eventually the disease stripped MammaNon of any memory. She knew we loved her, but she didn't know who we were. Her body weakened further until she needed hospital care.

Things were deteriorating rapidly. Everyday I visited. She did not speak anymore but I knew she would want to pray. Everyday I helped her make the sign of the cross and she listened to my words. We prayed together.

I was there for her last breath; her grandchild (aka Nipote)...

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