A Tribute to My Grandma

Happy Mothers Day!

I think it’s fitting to share a post about my grandma with you all on the day of the year dedicated to celebrating the wonderful mothers and grandmothers in our lives. I’ve been blessed with such an awesome mom, and am also lucky to have grown up with an amazing grandma, who passed away a little over a week ago.

With my grandma last Christmas

With my grandma last Christmas

I think that for a lot of people, a grandma is someone they see a few times a year at holidays, get weird gifts from that they’ll never use, and never have real conversations about life with. For me, when my grandma passed away, I lost one of the closest people in the world to me.

My grandma somewhere around 60 years ago, in what we've deemed her Austin Powers look

My grandma somewhere around 60 years ago, in what we’ve deemed her Austin Powers look

My grandma was such a selfless person. She worried about us before she worried about herself. She’d do anything for the people she loved, almost to a fault. If you happened to mention that you needed a new pair of boots or whatever the case may be, the next day she’d show up at your house with a pair of boots she specifically went shopping for for you.

Christmas Day at her house is one of my favorite annual occasions. It was borderline ridiculous with presents piled all over the living room from her, as she just enjoyed spoiling us.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Anytime any of us would walk into my grandma’s house, her first questions were always, “Are you hungry? Do you want me to fix you something to eat?” She was a quintessential little old Italian cook, always pushing food on you and never taking no for an answer. Everyone knew better than to go to her house with an already full belly.

My grandma was a little kid at heart. She dressed up every Halloween and scared all of us by trick-or-treating at our houses with creepy masks on so that we didn’t recognize her at first. When I was younger, we were having a snowball fight, and she ran in the house with new ball of snow to chuck at one of us, slipped, and hurt her wrist. She was a Peter Pan with an always youthful persona, and when things like that happened, we all shook our heads and laughed at her… because that was just grandma.

Grandma- little girl

My grandma when she was a little girl

My grandma was very politically savvy – a staunch Democrat who loved Bill Clinton without fault. She always had the news blasting in her house while she cooked, milled around doing things, or laid in her bed – always falling asleep and pretending that she had been awake when we walked in the room and woke her up by accident. She looked forward to working the election boards every time, and if I ever had a question about a political happening, she was my go-to source.

My grandparents on their anniversary last year

My grandparents on their anniversary last year

She had a way of making you feel special. Last year when she was in the hospital battling cancer and pneumonia, with a breathing tube down her throat unable to talk, she would jot down words to communicate with us. One time as I sat by her bedside, she woke up, looked at me, and pointed to the clipboard where she’d write.

She wrote down B-E-A….. and I responded, “Beautiful? What’s beautiful?”

And she pointed at me.

That was just how she was — always quick to compliment you, tell you she was proud of you, let you know that she thought you looked pretty or that she liked your outfit.

My older brother and me with my grandma before a wedding we were in

My older brother and me with my grandma before a wedding we were in

Speaking of talking, it was my grandma’s favorite thing to do. She was quite the chatty lady, always loving to gossip. During our phone chats, she let me in on all of the family secrets. As my cousin recently put it, she was a confidante that you could tell everything to…as long as you anticipated that everyone in the family would then know, as well as the boy at the local Acme, her mailman and the bank tellers down the street from her.

Getting ready for my wedding

Getting ready for my wedding

Her other favorite things to do were go out to eat – ‘gallivanting’ as she always put it – and to see shows on Broadway. Every restaurant that I love in my hometown reminds me of her. Growing up, the women in my family would head into NYC to see so many shows, including seeing Annie way too many times because it was my sister’s favorite, and going toΒ Les Miserables a handful of times because we all love it so much.

In NYC after a Broadway show in 2008

With my aunt, mom, and grandma in NYC after a Broadway show, circa 2008

She was stubborn and she was a fighter. In the end, cancer took all of her strength until she had almost nothing left to give. The last words my grandma ever spoke to me was over the phone on Easter, ending our conversation by saying “I love you baby.” By the time I flew into New Jersey, she had been intubated because she was too weak to breathe on her own. It was so difficult to not be able to do anything for her. My mom deemed the past few months a “slow motion free fall” in that we all saw her deteriorating and it was all happening so fast, yet there wasn’t much we could do. She was so terrified of dying and she wanted so desperately to live, and I wonder if she knew that she was losing the fight. None of us had the heart to say anything about it, so we just held her hand and told her we loved her those last days.

Celebrating her 74th birthday in 2008

Celebrating her 74th birthday in 2008

The last gift I got from her was an Easter present: a bear with a scripted phrase starting with, “I love you forever,” chocolate covered almonds, and a magazine about Marilyn Monroe and the loves of her life. I was a Marilyn Monroe fan as a teenager, and have gotten countless Marilyn presents over the years from my grandma. T-shirts, Christmas ornaments, calendars, books… you name it, I have it. My grandma was an extremist, and if you ever were going to tell her that you liked someone or something, you better be sure that you’ll like it for a long time, as she never forgot a detail like that. We always joked that she either drove 30 miles over the speed limit, or 30 miles under it.

Wedding-ladies

With my cousins, grandma, sister, and mom on my wedding day

My heart aches. I feel like I’m missing a piece of my soul. I know that it isn’t just me, that a lot of people in my family that she was close with have a feeling of emptiness without her here in this world with us.

I’m not sure what I believe happens after death, but I like to picture her somewhere beautiful, free and happy, watching over us and reveling in all of the beauty of the world. I just have to believe that her energy somehow lives on. I think that a little bit of her lives inside of everyone in my family, that we carry her with us.

Rehearsal Dinner pic

At the rehearsal dinner for my brother’s wedding in 2009

And so gram, thank you for loving me, for all of the memories, all that you’ve done for me and for always being there. I’m going to try to carry on with life — to be excited and get ready to move into my new home this weekend, to love the people in my life like crazy, to keep working hard and pursuing my passions, to live a healthy and happy life — I think that’s what you would have wanted. But all the while, I’ll be missing you each and every day.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , on by .

About foodielovesfitness

Hi, my name's Nicole and I'm the blogger behind Foodie Loves Fitness! I'm passionate about healthy living, and my site focuses on all the elements of this -- from cooking, baking, and my vegetarian eats, to my workouts and all things fitness related, to positive thinking and the power of a great attitude in living your best life. I love animals, sports, travel, and wine, which are topics I write about often on my site. I adore my husband, dog, family, and girlfriends, and blog about my loved ones a lot as well.

20 thoughts on “A Tribute to My Grandma

  1. Jessie

    I have very little words about this post, as I’m in awe of how beautifullly written it was. Your grandma sounded like the most wonderful, caring, fun, chatty, loving, carefree lady! To hear you speak so highly of her, just puts such a huge smile on my face. She may not be here in person, but know she’ll always be around you in spirit – guiding you down the right direction in life & never leaving your side <3 Thanks for sharing such a deep, and heartspoken post! Happy Mother's Day to all the fabulous Mother's in your life!

    Reply
  2. Paula

    This is a beautiful post, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s clear that you loved your grandmother so much.

    Reply
    1. foodielovesfitness Post author

      Aww thanks! It’s funny because I look almost nothing like my mom or the women on her side of the family, but my grandma had blue eyes like my mom and I do. Maybe that’s the part of them that I get, although my dad has blue eyes too so that might be debatable. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  3. FitBritt@MyOwnBalance

    This is so well written and so beautiful Nicole. I feel like I know your grandmother through your words. She seems like such a wonderful lady and I am so sorry you are going through this loss. I believe that remembering the good times, of which you clearly had many, is the best way to remember and honor a person. You are doing just that. I hope that your grandmother is in a happy place filled with love in her heart looking down on you and your family.

    Reply
    1. foodielovesfitness Post author

      Thanks so much for this comment Britt. I agree, the entire weekend following her death, we all talked about so many happy and funny memories and it reminded me about just how many there are.

      Reply
  4. Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health

    I loved this, Nicole. It was such a nice tribute to your grandmother and I know she is looking down on you with pride. She was a beautiful woman too! I think her and my grandmother would have gotten along really well. She is also a die-hard democrat. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. foodielovesfitness Post author

      Looking at all of the pictures from when she was young made me realize what a pretty, well put together woman she was in her heyday! Even in her older years she liked to get all dressed up and look nice. Ha, funny about your grandma’s similar political views – I used to get my grandma funny George Bush gifts, like a calendar with a ridiculous statement he made for each day of the year, or a doll of him that would say something nonsensical when you pushed a button. They always cracked us up!

      Reply
  5. angi

    Beautiful tribute! Grandmothers are the best and I still miss mine and she passes almost 20 years ago. I didn’t know your grandmother however it is obvious that she lives on in you. You are all of the things you describe her as being. There is no better tribute to our loves ones than to continue to share the best parts of them in our daily lives which you do just by being you. Miss you my friend! P.S. The pics are awesome and I think you should frame Grandma Powers! LOVE IT!

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Gram's Anadama Bread - Foodie Loves Fitness

  7. Pingback: Pasta Shells with Easy Arugula Cherry Tomato Sauce [vegan] - Foodie Loves Fitness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *