On a recent trip to Nashville to see my grandchildren, my grandson was asking me to buy him toys. Thus began a talk I wanted to have about my own grandmother. The value of my relationship with her was built on her unconditional love for me.
Grandma Gliatti was born in Italy and moved to America in her twenties. She and my grandpa were poor. I am sure they lived on pasta and homemade bread for many meals. She used to tell me stories of hiding under the kitchen table when bill collectors came.
Even when I was a small child, toys were prized, getting any kind of gift or money. And yet, Grandma never had much money so gifts were limited to Christmas and were very small items.. At that time, she bought all of her grandchildren (which were many) a little something each, frequently we all got the same thing.
The delight in getting a gift from Grandma Gliatti was more special because of who it came from than any item. Infact, as good as my memory is of my childhood, I can only recall one gift from her, a Barbie type doll that was Italian so she said!
Her reaction to seeing her grandkids happy was the best gift of all. When Grandma smiled, her face lit up and at times, she would move to tears of joy. How can you put a price tag on a gift like that?
I was raised by my Grandma’s son, who was the only one of 4 siblings not living in Toledo, Ohio. Thus my time spent with her was limited to weekend trips to see her and the rest of the family. The drive to Grandma’s didn’t matter; it was too big of a thrill to see her to care. She was worth the boring drive. Her and Grandpa I felt the moon and stars were over their head.
Kindness in a relative is not measured in terms of material possessions but more out of love. Grandma use to sit up late with my sister and me, talking about whatever we wanted to talk about until my father pulled in the driveway. As soon as she saw those headlights, she would yell and laugh telling us to run up to our bed we shared and pretend to be asleep. We did exactly as we were told, never letting on what Grandma had done.
Looking back, perhaps our parents knew it and chose to not say a word. The late night chats seemed to be as important and special to Grandma as they were to me. Her white powdered cookies she hid in the cabinet from Grandpa would come out and we would sit munching cookies and laughing with her for hours.
Those days gone by, of watching her make her Italian dishes and kneed bread may be over with but in my mind, they never ended. She was an important part of my youth and the realization that what she gave was priceless hits me hard when I look at my own grandchildren.
I asked my grandson what his best memory was of being with me. Not surprising he
I told him about my grandmother who has gone to heaven. It was important to me that he understand that what I miss about Grandma is not an item I opened or her slipping me a quarter at the store. My memories of all the fun times I laughed with her and she told me how much she loved me is what I remember best and loved the most.
My grandson seemed to understand because he asked me if I miss her much. I told him yes, but that is why I try to be as good of a grandmother to him as she was
Now I know how grandma felt towards me and how she missed a grandchild when she didn't see them. But, I also know, as she said, we carry them in our heart so they are never truly far away.