As I write this my Grandma, or Super Grandma as we affectionately call her, is laying in a hospital bed. She was brought into the hospital with severe stomach pains and vomiting. They found a mass on her pancreas. Apparently it is blocking her small intestines and is preventing her from digesting anything. After a very rough night she was stabilized and now it’s a waiting game for the next step.
We don’t know her prognosis yet, and won’t for another few days, but as I thought about her, and our family, and the legacy she will one day leave behind I knew I wanted, no, I needed to write about her.
The youngest of 10 children (and the only one born in America) her childhood was pretty normal for any Italian immigrant in the 1920’s. Her family’s story of success and triumph, mixed with sadness and pain, is similar to a lot of immigrant stories of people who came to America looking for a better life for themselves and for their families, and found what they were looking for.
She raised 6 children, six children who have all gone on to be smart, successful, good people. One can never count the number of things a mother teaches her children but one thing is for certain, she taught each of them compassion, love, the value of family, and mostly, the value of faith.
Anyone who knows Super Grandma knows how important her faith is. I tell everyone that she has a direct line to God. If you need prayers she’s the one to go to. God listens to her. She instilled her faith, and love of God in all of her children and grandchildren. It is proven every time one of us takes a car trip and recites “Our Lady of the Highway, pray for us” before we ever pull away from the curb. It is shown every time one of us repeats “leave it in God’s hands, God will provide.”
I have known for a long time how special my family is. A lot of my friends always had stories to tell about their crazy family and the latest feud or drama to infiltrate their lives. I couldn’t relate. I’ve had friends that didn’t want people to come visit because this family member or that would just embarrass them. I couldn’t relate. I had friends who didn’t know their grandparents, not because they had passed away, but because there had been a fight no one knew the reason for anymore and they refused to speak to each other. I couldn't relate.
I tell stories of our amazingly fun parties and get-togethers. I tell stories of the bond I have with my cousins, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. I tell my friends that we all love each other and that is no exaggeration. How did we get so lucky? Well, we have something no one else in the whole wide world has. We have Super Grandma.
She is so full of love and goodness it makes me ache to know she is in pain. I’m going to visit her tomorrow but I already know what she will tell me. She will tell me that she has lived a good life and if this is God’s will then so be it. She’ll tell me she is leaving it in God’s hands. I don’t want Super Grandma to accept death so easily but I know she will do it the same way she does everything, with grace and humility. I certainly don’t want her to be in pain and I know she will be looking forward to seeing Grandpa again (probably playing the clarinet with St. Peter), I just don’t want it to happen so soon. She’s 89 years young. She still does an exercise tape and eats healthy food. She’s my idol! I’m not ready to let her go and I know the rest of my family feels the same way. Maybe it’s her time, maybe it’s not, but I know she has lived her life to the fullest and I know she has left her mark on this world. Her legacy will live on long after Super Grandma is gone. Lucky us.