Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sunday Supper

While tossing and turning, yet again, this morning at around 3:30, I was thinking about my wonderful Grandparents and Sundays at their home for supper. How I miss that. Every Sunday when I was a kid, we would go to Grandma's house for Spaghetti. My Grandpa was the Sunday chef. He would spend all morning preparing the gravy, the sauce, and it was THE best sauce. And the meatballs, let me tell you; he was known for the meatballs. Anytime there was a party, a shower, anything, he was asked to make his meatballs. They were the best! Of course, being the Sicilian he was, he would grumble and complain about the cost, the time that went into them, this and that, the weather, but he would still make them. And I'm sure, be secretly happy at his success. They were a success. They were the first to go, the talk of every get-together. He made a mad meatball.
My Grandparents were the kind of Grandparents every kid should have. The kind I wish my own kids could have. My kids have my memories of my Grandparents. Marisa does remember the two of them. My Grandpa died in February of 1996 of a heart attack. Grandma had taken Sally, number 2, to the grocery store with her, which was still allowed in their neighborhood for her. The dog was pretty resistant; dogs are remarkable that way. She knew something was wrong with Gramps before they left. And on the way home, she was pulling Gram home like never before. When Gram got home, he was on the floor, face-down, unconcious. She called 911, and he lived for, I think a week on life-support, but Grampa was gone, the Grampa we knew and loved. I think that was the saddest day of my life.
They were like my parents to me. I was very close to them. They were such a part of my childhood, every Sunday, every vacation, school vacation, when my parents would take their vacas, that's where I was. I loved my Grandparents with every bit of my being. They were my life. I was much closer to them, than my own parents. They knew me in a way my own parents refused to. Still do. They loved me, unconditonally. How I miss them. As I grew older, on my own, I grew farther away from them, knowing they were aging; selfishly knowing that they would soon - die. And I look at that now, and wonder how I could allow that to happen. I was afraid of their deaths. Of their non-existence, so I let them go.
My Grampa was an avid Yankee fan, and I'm sure that is where I get that. I think that is where my sisters get it, as well. Before dinner was served on Sunday, we would watch The Three Stooges, or Laurel and Hardy or one of the old classics. I would laugh at him laughing. I loved to watch those shows with him. He would fill his pipe with the wonderful smell of old cherry tobacco, how I miss that smell. Now I get the aroma when Frank and I go to the cigar store for him. I'll plant my nose in the caraffes, eyes closed, and remember my Grampa, the movies and Sunday Supper.
After dinner, it was time with the Yankees, another pipe. He would fall asleep. Mom, Gram and my Aunt Diane would head out to the stores for shopping. Gram called that her, "DAY OFF!" She was a treat! When she first met Frank, she took one look at him, and in a way only she could, in her very scratchy from too many cigs voice she said to me, "he looks just like the other one!" Referring, of course to my ex-husband. That was Gram. We just bust out laughing. She was hillarious. My Dad would call her Hazel or Maude, she did have the wit and sarcasm of both. A little on the dingy side, no, a LOT on the dingy side. She was a total ding-bat! She loved BINGO. When she died, I "inherited" her canvas Bingo bag for Frank and Terri. They were, at the time, hitting the Bingo parlors. I actually made them, or him rather, take it as a sentimental gesture for Gram. He lovingly did so for his Queen-bee.
I miss my Grandparents. I really do wish my own kids could have a relationship with my own parents like I had with mine. But they choose not to participate in their lives very often. They are there for the essential b'day and Christmas; but that's it. And mostly on their terms only. They have their favorites, and it's well-known. But my husband's family has taken them on as their own, and for this I am eternally grateful. Carmen, my ex, his parents have become older and ill, and his Mom and Marisa had a special bond when she was well; Marisa cherishes that, as do I. Her Grandfather calls her "Maurice," because he cannot pronounce her name. He, too is Italian. She will only allow him to call her by that pronunciation. It is a very sweet relationship she has with them.
Children should have special people in their lives. I did. I had my Grandparents. The stories they told. OH, the stories my Grampa told me. The ones he took to his grave, the ones I will take to mine. For him. This one I will share, knowing not if it is true; but that he turned the TV up very loud, and spoke very softly when he told the story; he was a young lad, living in Chicago, his brother, a bookie for Capone, yeah, THE Capone, and my Gramp a little guy, who loved his big brother, would watch as they would gather at the local coffee shop. Mr. Capone would flip a nickel off his thumb to my Gramp and have him "fetch a paper" every morning for him. After a few months of that, his brother moved his family out of Chicago and into Oswego, NY. He never saw his brother again; the way his brother wanted it, safe. But, from the stories he would later tell me, my Gramp didn't wander too far from his brother's lifestyle. Not too far into it, but not too far away either. He had some interesting stories, my Grampa. Always with the TV loud, and he, very quiet, making certain, not to be heard. I was young, and thought he was just being silly. I mean, who could hear above a blaring TV?? But as I grew older and understood his stories, I understood his stories. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. I guess I'll never know. But I'll never forget the fear or caution on his demeanor when he would tell them. Always when Gram was at Bingo.
I would give anything to be able to share a Sunday with them right now. The smell of the house. The Old Cherry tobacco, burning in his pipe. The meatballs and gravy on the stove, simmering away. Gram bitching that her teeth would fall out at the table, would always get us kids cracking up!! Always. She was so funny. "Don't make me laugh or I'll piss me girdle!," she'd say. And she meant it. She was funny. I remember them all, Mom, Aunt Di, Gram and Gramp making ravioli in the kitchen one day when I was about 6 years old. Who does that anymore??? My mother telling us to "Go play in traffic" those were my Mom's favorite parting words. So loving. But my Grandparents would just smile. And when we'd stay with them for vacations, my sister and I, they would always have special treats for us. My Grampa would always insist on putting a few dollars in my pocket when I would leave, up to the time I was an adult with kids of my own! And they didn't even have the money to do it.
I miss those Sundays with my Grandparents. I miss them both. How he could be so grumpy at her at times, and she be so incredibly goofy. I loved them. They called each other, "Al," because their names were Al and Alma, how cute is that.
New Years eve we would go to their friend, Carm's for poker. Being a kid, in a big house with a group of Italians playing poker, is both loud and hilarious. We would play po-ke-no, which my kids play now, when we remember we have it. My Gramp would give me wine and ginger-ale, when Gram wasn't looking. The other grandkids and I, would just watch as they'd get louder and funnier. I wonder whatevre happened to that crowd...
But I do miss my Granparents. I'll never forget the love they instilled in my life, the time I was able to spend with them. I cherish that time.
Wishing all pain-free days

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