From when I was seventeen years old, visiting my nonna was one of the highlights of my week.
A bad knee and near blindness kept her mostly house bound, but every week she’d cook me lunch—never has a restaurant, I’ve dined in, dished up a meal so delicious as those she served.
For hours we’d talk recipes, or about books we’d read—or, in her case, listened to. I’d tell her all about what the kids were up to, once they went off to school and were unable to join me for our weekly visits.
The stories of her past were my favourite. Sharing the memories of her life, growing up in Italy, wartimes, and the journey she made (with my nonno and, at the time, three children) to the other side of the world, with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Hard times shaped the remarkable lady who was my nonna—my best friend.
Not long before Nonna had a heart attack, she asked me to read to her the novel I was working on at the time, Pathways.
One chapter was all I managed to share before she fell ill and, upon finishing, she burst into tears. (She wasn’t the first to react this way, and I did warn her it was sad.)
When I apologised, she dismissed me, wiped her eyes and shook her head.
I will never forget the words she spoke in her heavy Italian accent ~
“Yes it is sad,” she said. “But that’s not why I’m crying. The reason I am crying is because I knew you were writing a novel, but I never knew it would be good.”
All her support—her encouragement— was based on the fact that she loved me. For that I am grateful, as I am for having had the best nonna and friend anyone could wish for.
I’m a better me because she was in my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. One day I will write Nonna’s Song and share a story of a great lady who touched the lives of so many.