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You're never prepared

Monday afternoon was hard. My Nana left the physical world. Her body was on this beautiful earth for 91 years. Who is lucky enough to have the support of a grandparent with them in their 40s? I am.

My Nana, Maria, or her given name Desalina (name of my cousin), had a rough upbringing. She grew up in the middle of a World War. Born in 1931, all she remembered of Italy was hardship, famine and rations. She would later ask me why in the hell I would want to move to the country where all there was pain and suffering. I had to explain to her, life is different there now. I have the possibility to make my life there now.

She wasn't convinced.

The memories I have of her were always pleasant. She never was mean or punished us, unless you think spanking a child with a soft pillow is a punishment. She would sleep in bed with me when we had sleepovers. Papa never wanted to share his bed with us grandkids. Nana always did.

We would get up early, 6am, to feed her 4 cats, some were strays and others were hidden in the basement only for her eyes. I remember the smell of the Meow mix food I would dig out with my tiny hands. And how I loved when they would come running out from their hiding spaces. Although one would always wait until I was gone to eat, Missy you little scaredy cat.

Taking a swim with my Nana

Our mornings consisted of walking Penny her tiny, black dog. We'd always stop at the park behind her house to go down the incredibly hot slide and swing on the swingset. She was always PRESENT with us. If it was playing a board game or baking something, she always interacted with us. Papa would come in and make us all laugh and then head back to his recliner. He loved my Nana with his whole HEART and SOUL! I saw that first hand when my cousin Alina and I took Nana and Papa to Italy one last time.

My Nana was born in Farneta, a small hill town in Emilia Romagna region. She left when she was 14. She arrived in London without knowing any English. She learned English while working in a small hotel as a maid. That's when my Papa found her.

Making breads with my Nana

Nana always had a new stray cat that would come and end up staying with her and Papa. Tiger she found in a garbage can, Mouthful came to her in the backyard. Animals were attracted to her. I believe because she was always present with them. She always was looking to heal, feed and just have another cat tied up in the backyard.

Speaking of her backyard, her magical garden was a dream. It had veggies, flowers and I loved every minute of it. It's why I love my flowers so much. When I first moved to Italy in 2009, I made sure I had flowers all over my terrace.

My flowers on my terrace in Italy

Grief is hard. I don't like talking about it. I just like to cry it all out. It's more therapeutic for me.

I appreciate all the thoughtful messages about her passing. I still can't believe she's gone.


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