I would never see her like again. Nellie…

November 14th is the 15th anniversary of the passing of my grandmother, Nellie Mandirola (Non).
My being, all of our beings, are shaped by our youth. My youth was blessed with love, kindness and attention to any of my needs. My parents were outstanding, as I have come to know now, more than ever, as I journey through the obstacles of parenting. My parents, though, had a bonus: they had Gramps and Non.
We lived at 124 Center St., and Non and Gramps at 126 Center St. They gave my parents the land to build on. Of course.  So it is, that from my infant days to my early married life with Staci, I had Non.
Non, “I miss you.”
You enter through the screened porch and holler…

“Hey Non.” She says , “Let me get you something.” Candy, pop, cookies (Lorna Doones were her favorite) were all readily available. Then, she would sit with you, as long as you wanted. Generosity was Non.
Do you love life?  Non did. It was a simpler day for sure. What made her happy? Staci will vouch for me on this one. Non was happiest when she was doing for others. Bring a friend over and you could feel this genuine warmth. Bring a child, (Catherine pictured here) and Non radiated love.

Staci was home with me for just a few days when she looks at me and says, “you have no idea how lucky you are.”
Non was protective of us. After a bit too much celebration in my teens, I would have my friends drop me off at Non’s. I would say, “Non, I am sleeping over tonight.” Soon, I would hear in that strong high pitched voice on the phone; “Billy (my dad-who was waiting up), go to bed, he is here.” Thanks, Non.
My uncle Donald Pesci, a real writer, was also a beneficiary of Non’s love:

“I never wanted anything in the company of John and Nell but them. All the same, you had only to whisper what your needs and they were there before you.”

Maybe it is my forties that has induced such reflection. I can’t help it.
I am not the kindest, nor the warmest or the most generous. But, when I am those, when I am good for only the sake of being good, I feel like Non must have most of her life.
Again, Donald’s words are exactly as I feel…

“When the bells in heaven ring, my prayer is they will sound like Nellie’s laughter. And John (Gramps) was the kindest man I ever knew. So long as they both are in my thoughts and heart, I know I will never be an orphan on the earth. Their great gift to me was their goodness. I try to measure up to it every day.”

Non, you are in me, in my thoughts and heart. For sure. Fortunate are those who were touched with such love.

JMM

Comments

  1. Glenn says

    You keep out-doing yourself, John; we both loved this. Great writing.

    The last picture is more than adorable! Catherine is so cute! :)

    Good luck racing… wherever you are!

  2. wolfejo says

    John, you left nothing unsaid. We were blessed! Thanks for your post. It brought me such calmness.

    Love, Missy

  3. amy says

    John, this was love, through and through. Non was special. When Ant and I first started dating, he'd bring me over for torts, gnocci, and Non's famous bean soup. Upon noticing that I picked out the beans each time, she made me a batch without beans next visit! Bean soup without the beans-'cause what you wanted is what you got at 126 center. We miss her so much.
    We need to remember the really important things in life. So I called my own gram today.
    thanks again john, well said.

  4. Jay says

    How quickly memories which were seemingly stuck in a quagmire of my memory's mud rise to the surface. Too many to count, all good (even when we got in trouble). John, your grandmother and grandfather were to you and your siblings what they were to us all, and not a day goes by that I don't consider them among my greatest teachers, mentors, and friends. I agree, now in my 40's, how being a parent has unknown challenges and roadblocks, and I'm reminded of a quote by Mark Twain. I'll try to do him justice: "“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.”