“For me food isn’t just about something that goes into my mouth but about stories and family traditions. Whether it be a story you will tell in the future or a story you want to recall. Food has been a big part of my family for my entire life. I am grateful for my heritage, where I was born and where I reside now. I can think of no better way of remembering my Grandfather tonight than by having a big bowl of meat sauce pasta and a slice of bread. A slice of bread for the summer he got a new bread machine and made us homemade bread every day (some times twice) and meat sauce pasta because he and my mom make the best meat sauce pasta on this planet.” — My facebook update last night
I debated whether I should even write this post. My Nonno passed away last night. It has been about 10 years since I last saw him and I cannot help but feel some guilt about that. I was 18 when I saw him last and when you are a teenager who is going to school, working and worried about boys the last thing on your mind is spending time with relatives. I have learned so much in the past few years about valuing the people in my life and enjoying every minute with them. At the end of the day our memories are the one thing no one can take away from us. They are engrained in our hearts forever and achieved by living and being present to the ones we love. Taking in their laughs, voice, eyes, smiles, quirks and the love we feel for them is how we keep them alive in ours hearts. I know I am really involved in my work and when I am in the zone that is all there is, I also know that I am not good with sharing my feelings with those closest too me (except Adam it seems). I just wanted to talk a little bit about my granddad and pay my respects because at this time typing is all you can coax out of me since I am a big hot teary mess. Last night when I first heard of the news I was in a bit of shock (I knew it was coming but you still take a moment to let it process), then of course I cried a lot. I decided to sit down and start looking at photos of my grandfather and I felt a huge sense of gratitude come over me. It is the first time in my life I have felt the deepest sense of gratitude when someone passed. The gratitude I felt was over the memories that he left me with. I kept thinking back to Venezuela and all the trips we made to Margarita to visit with them. One summer he bought a bread making machine and every day he would make fresh bread for us. We loved it so much that many days we begged him to make a second loaf. I can’t help but laugh at his shock of us plowing through one loaf of bread and demanding another. Such a great memory that I treasure. I also, of course, remember some of the amazing food he would make. Every day while we would visit he would make us amazing lunch. Back then, I didn’t quite comprehend how valuable and meaningful this was to me but today I am so grateful for these memories and these are the moments I treasure the most – lunch and dinner time with family.
Every time my mom visits I ask for her to make something of my childhood for me, whether it be one of her delicious cakes, veal marsala, lasagna or meat sauce pasta to name a few. Every holiday I look forward to meals around the table with my family and with Adam’s family too. One of the most special memories I have of my grandparents and parents was on the Spirit of Christmas (December 21st) in ’97. It was a few days before my grandmother passed away. It was so magical. We sat outside to celebrate and eat dinner. My uncle, aunt, cousin, brother, mom, dad, grandmother, grandfather, dogs, and I were there. It was warm out (we were in Venezuela) and an unusual breeze just came. I don’t really remember what the conversation was about but I just remember that we also started laughing and my grandmother laughed so hard she was crying. I have that image in my heart and on every Spirit of Christmas I think back to it. One year after my grandmother had passed, my mom decided that we needed to bring in the new year with some new traditions. So, we grabbed all of my grandfather’s plates that were broken or chipped and threw them over the wall to the empty plot of land next door to rid him of old broken things and make space for new things. My granddad was so mad at us but we had such a good laugh. That was the year my mom, godmother and I decided that yellow knickers were for money and a red bra was for love. We have kept that tradition for 15 years and going strong. I am grateful to be who I am and I am proud of my family. I brag about them all the time. One day, whenever Adam and I decide we want kids, I want instill these traditions from my childhood. Cooking, food, everyone at the lunch/dinner table. Recipes that are family traditions and lots and lots of photos. Last night we paid our respects to my grandfather with a piece of bread (bread machine story) and a bowl of meat sauce pasta that my mom made. I love my family and I am ever so grateful for them. If I could leave you with one thing, that is to chose to be present to the ones you love. Everything else comes and goes but your loved ones are your loved ones and one day the memories you stored in your heart will be what you have to remember them by. <3
The first two sets of images are courtesy of my cousin’s box of photo treasures so a big thanks to her for sharing them 🙂 The last row of images are from my box of treasures. I am the baby in the photo 🙂