November 21, 2017

Nonna Gemma

Exactly one month ago my grandma on my mother's side passed away. 

We have never been too close, as she's been ill pretty much all my life and she spoke a dialect that was hard for me to understand. 

The news didn't come exactly as a surprise, as my mum and my brother had told me that she'd been feeling even worse lately, but it still had an impact on me. I am one of the lucky few that haven't lost too many relatives so far, so this situation gave me an opportunity to ponder life and death and all of that. It also gave me the chance to observe the different reactions among my relatives and to try and understand what they were going through.

I would like to share with you two little stories that my brother and my grandad told me on the day of the funeral.

When I saw my grandad on the 24th of October I expected him to be really quiet, but he surprised me with his usual desire to speak to everyone, and as soon as he saw me he came over to kiss me and tell me that "your mum and your aunt wanted to dress her in an ugly grey suit, I convinced them to use the beautiful pink dress that she wore on our 50th wedding anniversary instead - that was my favourite." Bless him. I found this story so sweet. He also wanted to wear a matching pink tie for the funeral but my mum insisted on the dark one. Of course I told my mum off for that.

As you know, I live far away from my family, so I wasn't around for the last month of my grandma's life (I did see her a few times in September though, and she even said the word "London", which made me proud - she remembered that I live there), but my brother updated me on all the news via phone and also in person when I went back home for the funeral. Of all the things he told me, one struck me the most. A couple of days before my grandma passed away, my grandad was in the kitchen and he suddenly heard her shouting his name. My grandma had not spoken much in the past year or so and in her last months of life her words would be few and far between. She was also almost unable to move herself and her hands. As soon as he heard her calling, my grandad walked to the bedroom to check on her, and she waved goodbye to him and whispered "ci vediamo presto" (see you soon). A few days before that, she had woken up in the morning and grabbed his hand with all her strength and held it for a while. That's when my mum texted me to say that she knew grandma was leaving.

To think that she's not here anymore still feels surreal to me, and the fact that I live far away from the rest of my family makes everything feel like a dream instead of reality. Luckily I managed to fly back for the funeral and have an unexpectedly nice day with many relatives that I hadn't seen in ages. I hope I'll remember that day for a long time, as it felt like the right way to remember a dear person that passed away and made me realise once more how great my family is.

As I said, I have never been really close to my grandma (I do have a really strong bond with my other granny though), but I can say that I'll always remember her as a fierce, strong woman, for she fought against many diseases and surgery operations without losing her sense of humour and desire to live, and she always loved my grandad with all her heart.

Martina


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