Lessons from time spent with my 90 year old Nonna

When my mother called to ask if I would join her on a trip to visit my 90 year-old grandmother, without hesitation, I said yes and began to look forward to it.

Growing up on the east coast, I spent quality time with my Nonna but when my immediate family moved to Los Angeles when I was ten, our visits were not as often but were still filled with quality time whenever we saw each other, which was yearly. As she aged, my Nonna could no longer travel to us but I could still travel to her and have managed to get out to NY on average once every two to three years. Distance is an obstacle but I believe time spent with others is not about quantity but rather quality.

As I wait for my plane to board to return home, I’m reflecting on the past four days I’ve spent with my Nonna and how amazing it was to be around this lively ninety year-old Sicilian woman. And I learned a few things I’d like to share…

  • Age is but a number and does not define a person.
  • Being in the moment can be just sitting there, in a person’s presence.
  • See things for yourself before you form an opinion, regardless of what others tell you.
  • Love keeps you young and alive. Bottom line.
  • Family is a window to look into to help understand yourself.
  • Letting others be who they are is perhaps the best thing you can do for someone you love.
  • Making a 90 year-old laugh is one of the greatest joys I’ve experienced.

I wish so bad I could just take her home with me and let her breath the Pacific Ocean mist for her remaining days (though I think she has a looooooonnnng time to go!) but alas, that is likely not to happen as she told me she can’t travel and the rest of my family are there with her…

“In ever conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, bridge to our future.”
– Alex Haley, author




3 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

Today was part 2 of 7 Days till Christmas

Quick summary – I volunteer at an organization and one of my tasks is to deliver a holiday gift bag to an elderly person in need. She wasn’t thrilled to hear from me until she fully realized who I was. And though she didn’t want to schedule a drop off time, I tried to make it work.

From our conversation, I surmised that she was going to be away this week. So, I purposely waited until today (honestly, I was suppose to drop it off by yesterday but I fudged that a bit…) because I was hoping to catch her home.

Sure enough, I did this afternoon and what a lovely moment we shared.

I delivered her present and a big smile spread across her face. She mentioned she was expecting it. I told her I purposely waited because I knew she was traveling. She told me she just returned last night. She felt the bag and with a smile, said “Oh, this is heavy!”

I told her how much we appreciate her and how we wish her a merry Christmas and happy New Year. She told me the same and we parted with smiles on our faces.

Not the ending I knew would happen, but it was certainly the one I hoped would…

3 Days Till Christmas!!!!!

#givingbackblogseries #givingback

4 Days Till Christmas – Giving Back

Who better to give back to than a pair of loving grandparents?

When I was a child, I admit my grandparents were not my primary focus. Don’t get me wrong. I loved going to grandma’s because it typically meant I was going to see my extended family, in particular my cousins who were all around the same age, and have a great time while the adults chatted at the big table but I should mention the adults all spoke in Sicilian to one another so none of us kids could understand much of what was being said.

But my Nonna and Nonno were always happy to see me and I especially remember my grandma’s cooking and the smell of onion and garlic wafting throughout her house, no matter which room you were in. Tomatoes from the backyard were always used to make sauce, a Sunday tradition for us Sicilian folk, and all seemed right with the world back then… ah, famiglia!

It was only a few months ago that I introduced my Nonna and Nonno to my husband, Don. They were unable to come to the wedding unfortunately, as they’re in their nineties, but it was very important to me that they meet Don and I wasn’t willing to risk anymore time so we went this year. It was a wonderful visit and they welcomed him right in. He got to see a little slice of my past while meeting two people that mean a great deal to me.

Sorry to take the scenic route to my point… Today, I wrote a letter to my grandparents (in their native language, which I’m still in learning-mode on!) to say hello, happy holidays and to let them know I love them both very much. I am waiting to mail it though, because I want to print a few photos to include in the envelope but didn’t get out of work in time to go do it. Tomorrow morning though, I’ll be printing and mailing and I hope when they get my card, it puts a big smile on their faces.

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”  –  Alex Haley (American writer, 1921-1992)

#givingbackblogseries #givingback

Countdown till Christmas – 5 days to go!

Five days till Christmas! It’s about 75* degrees right now in Los Angeles, so it’s a bit difficult to feel the seasons change but I do live vicariously through east-coasters as I just heard my hometown of Buffalo has received eight inches of snow! (I may be more happy about that than they are though….)

I remember growing up there and my mom needing to scrape the ice that built on the car simply while we were shopping. Brrrrr……! But I digress….

Thinking of the season changes led me to thinking about Buffalo which led to me to thinking about my grandparents. I’m fortunate to have three of them still with me, two in their nineties and one close to it. I grew up knowing them well and I’ll forever be grateful that both sides chose to leave Sicily in the 1950s to come to America to give their children a better life.

As a first generation Italian American (Sicilian to be specific), I take pride in where I’m from and realize that America is a melting pot of immigrants from all over, which to me is a beautiful thing. There is a reason so many people want to be here and I do not take for granted for one day the freedom I have because of those before me who fought for it.

Today, in the spirit of love and being helpful, I decided to write hand-written letters to my grandparents in their native Italian language, which I am rusty at and would be nowhere without my Italian/American dictionary.

I know it’s a small thing but it’s the small things that make up the moments of our life and if I can put a smile I my grandparent’s face, then that’s a moment I want to create.

During this holiday season, why not make sure to take time to appreciate those in your life who helped shaped your family for the better? Send them a card. Give them a call. Tell them you love them. And make them smile.


25 Days of Spreading Love – A countdown to Christmas: Dec. 8

For the original idea, please go here.

17 Days till Christmas – spreading love by calling my grandparents

I grew up as a first generation American in a Sicilian immigrant family. And some of my fondest childhood memories are of being at my grandparent’s house.

They not only loved me (and my siblings and cousins) immensely but also kept our cultural heritage alive and well.

From the backyard vegetable garden to the passed-down sauce recipe. From the family gatherings to the black and white photos of coming to America by ship. My grandparents helped in making me appreciate where I come from.

I try to appreciate them and stay connected but sometimes, I fail.

For today, I chose to spread the love by picking up the phone and calling my grandparents. They were pleasantly surprised. My grandmother and I chatted for over twenty minutes, catching up and swapping memories. It was absolutely wonderful. I even made her laugh a few times.

Sure, the world moves fast. And yes, there are only so many hours in the day. But shouldn’t calling (and visiting) loved ones be a part of it?

Spread the love. #spreadthelove