letter to nonni

Dearest Nonni,

I love you so much. I am so thankful that you are my Nonni.

You taught me what a loving marriage looks like: you and Nonno were always looking out for one another. You never took each other so seriously that you couldn’t laugh at any moment. You supported each other in each situation. You loved each other more than most couples I know. You were always thankful to have found each other. You and Nonno are what Robby & I desire to be.

You have been so adorably funny that I laugh until my sides hurt. Your quirky nature is infectious. It is impossible to be around you and not smile. You even joked about death and what each of us wanted to take when you were gone. I’m almost positive that post-its reside under some of your trinkets. Ha!  And you always kept your “novels” in what looked like a Bible cover.  You LOVED to watch Wheel of Fortune. Oh, the world needs more Nonnis.

Any bad day or week could be instantly cured with one of your whole-hearted hugs, arms wrapped tightly around me, always a kiss on the cheek.

I loved meeting you at Luigi’s (you often ordered hot lemonade and pasta) or Mexicali (you always ordered a tostada). I remember when I was young, mom & I would have lunch with you at the old Pete’s (their grilled cheese was your favorite)!

I loved chatting with you over food. Somehow my attitude about life was always brighter after time spent with my Nonni.

You showed me that makeup doesn’t matter… au naturel is so much more beautiful. You never tried to hide your wrinkles, and I always loved them!

You taught me that career should never be more important than family. You lived the mantra that everything should be done with family in mind, to cherish family moments and memories. You lived your entire life with an insatiable appetite for family.

You were deeply connected to your church. You always talked about potlucks they would hold after services. You always brought your own dish to share. You radiated the importance of having a church family to lean on. How true this is!

You are where I got my clean-freak nature, I’m sure of it. My house will always be clean, bed will always be made, dishes will always be put away… because I’ve wanted to be like you.

I’m also sure that I got my tendency to worry from you – it is a blessing & a curse. You were always concerned about what your kids and grandkids are doing – whichever city we were living in at the time, you would call when you saw that the weather was bad, and it was usually best not to tell you that we were going on that ski excursion, far-off spring break trip or mountain biking adventure. You were a worrier to the core… because you loved us so deeply and wanted us protected and safe. I know that sometimes we teased you about your excessive fretting, but secretly, I’ve inherited this trait from my Nonni. And you know, sometimes it feels nice to be worried about.

As far back as I can remember, you were always loving on a puppy or dog. Buffy was the most recent, and you would grab her ears and tell her you loved her too. She was shy and you made her comfortable by placing her bed behind your chair. I always thought this was so sweet. You and Nonno connected with animals like no other person I have known. I learned to love animals to a great extent because of you. Until she left us, my sweet little Bailey was spoiled rotten and adored with pats and kisses because of your example.

You have always been taking care of others… cleaning up after us, cooking for us (over the stove with an apron on), smiling when we tell our happy moments, sad with us when times are hard. You are the kind of woman I want to be.

When I was young, I would often sleep over on your pull-out couch and watch movies and cartoons with you and Nonno. We would ride around on Nonno’s four-wheeler. You would ask us what we wanted for dinner. We’d constantly get candy from your candy drawer (coffee nips, bit-o-honeys & licorice). We’d “explore” the farm, pick the cotton buds and walk along the cannals. We’d sit in your living room and listen to Nonno’s stories. We would take bubble baths in your bathtub. You always had the best toys at your house (I particularly remember the wooden puzzles, board games, little golden books and the christmas music box). It was always hard to wait until the next sleepover at Nonni and Nonno’s … Some of my favorite childhood memories were at your house, being spoiled and cherished, with your loving presence surrounding us.

You gave me my favorite blankie as a newborn. I slept with it every night, and as I got a little older, I brought it with me everywhere… until somewhere along the way, it was lost. This was tragic. I had nightmares about my lost blankie. But you lovingly took me to the children’s store to pick out a new one. I remember laying my new favorite pink blankie on the floor and pretending to ride it like Aladdin’s magic carpet. You made sure I had that security blanket because that was the kind of Nonni you were – you would do anything to get rid of a tear in your grandkids’ eyes. You spoiled us rotten, and we loved it!

I loved seeing you and Nonno laughingly bickering, both with a twinkle in your eye the entire time. I loved asking and hearing about your parents’ voyages to California, your own childhoods, your travels to Europe, how you and Nonno met each other and fell in love. These are inspirational stories. These stories are grander, more insightful and more profound than those found in any blockbuster film. These are stories that I will keep in my heart as long as I live.

I had so much fun when you came to San Francisco last year. It meant a lot to me that you visited. I loved walking in Golden Gate Park to see the tulips and Dutch windmills, having an Italian dinner in North Beach and peeking in the shops on Fillmore with you. I loved cooking you breakfast in my teeny tiny kitchen (although my breakfasts will never measure up to yours). I am so glad you came.

What fun we had when you, my mom and I went to Nordstrom’s to pick out a purple-hewed dress for you to wear to my wedding. After a few misses and dressing-room laughs, we found the perfect gown. You looked stunning in it! I could tell you loved wearing it, and you mentioned how many comments you got on that dress. I am so glad we got to spend this time together.

I am so grateful that you and Nonno could both be at my wedding last October. I will cherish those memories and photos forever.  It is so fitting that you would give us our red Kitchenaid countertop mixer as a wedding gift. It is probably our favorite gift. I will think of you when I mix ingredients for cookies, breads, cakes and pie doughs.

But mostly, thank you for loving all of us so deeply. That love will carry on for generations and generations… because of you. There are no words that can express what this Nonni has done to enrich my life and so many others’.

You are my hero. I am only sad that all children cannot grow up with a Nonni as loving as you, a heart full of memories as quaint, wholesome and deeply moving as mine. I am sad that all adults cannot grow to respect and relate to a Nonni as inspirational as you have been. I am so very blessed to have had you in my life.

I will miss you every day.

Love always,  Anna

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24 Comments

Filed under family + friends, memories

24 responses to “letter to nonni

  1. Debbie Camp

    It makes me miss her so much, but thank you sharing the Nonni we know and love.
    xoxo,
    Mom

  2. Dear Anna: Somehow I missed the information that your Nonni had died. I just found out this morning… and then as I read this wonderful article on her, I cried. She was ALWAYS so very kind and thoughtful and nice to me – and I always enjoyed being around her… you are right, she is the kind of grandmother we should aspire to be… Thanks for sharing this… love, a.p.

  3. Robby

    So glad that you shared your wonderful memories of Nonni and the way she touched your life. I know that everyone at the funeral really loved and appreciated you for it. (And it especially touched Nonno :)

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