A tribute to my Nonna
Yesterday my Nonna passed away. You might think it’s too soon to be writing a post about it, but she’s being buried today. They don’t wait around in Italy. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d take some time to sit and reflect. To think about the wonderful lady she was and tell you a little about her. And she was wonderful. Truly.
My 96year old Nonna didn’t speak English. We don’t really speak Italian. Yet the language barrier never stopped us communicating. Obviously it’s always been handy having my dad there to translate, but so much is said in the tone of voice, with facial expressions and body language. Italians are so expressive, although often seem to be furiously shouting about something catastrophic when, in actuality, they’re simply talking about dinner plans.
I could never have a proper one on one conversation with my Nonna, but I understood her in a very different way. She enthralled me. When we were younger we’d go to Italy every year and I can remember being so excited to see her during the day-long drive. Often Dad wouldn’t tell her we were going over. We’d arrive unannounced but it wouldn’t take long for us all to be sitting around the table eating pasta.
Nonna was the real life Wonderwoman. Having raised four children largely on her own, survived a horrendous earthquake which robbed her of her home and then living in, what should’ve been, temporary accommodation for over two decades. Nonna would walk up the mountain to the fountain with a bucket on her head and a basket under each arm. She’d put her hand in fire and turn logs without even flinching. Her hands were made of stone – something we know to be fact as when making chilli mash together she’d peel the skin of boiled potatoes as though they were cold, whereas we couldn’t even pick them up.
Nonna had a voice that could carry, a shout that told you when you were in serious trouble. Yet her laugh was infectious. It came from the belly and caused her shoulders to bounce. She had a kind heart. When we were younger we’d kick off our sheets in the night because it was so hot. Nonna would come by and put the sheets back over us. We’d stay like that until she was gone and then kick them off again. She gave the softest cuddles and made little noises like ‘do-do’ in our ears, which she’d always cackle after doing.
Leaving my Nonna was always the worst part of any trip, and it’s never become any easier. During our last visit my Nonna was already in hospital. Saying goodbye to her on the ward was heart-wrenching. Not seeing her standing at the door of the house waving us off was an emotional moment. I wished we’d seen her stood there again and I’m sad to know that we won’t.
My Nonna was a special woman and incredibly important to all of us. She was the one in charge, the one we all looked up to. I’m so deeply upset that she’s gone, but she will forever be in our hearts.