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., andÂ Non and Gramps at 126 Center St. They gave my parents the land to build on. Of course. Â So it is, that from my infant days to my early married life with Staci, I had Non.
Non, â€œI miss you.â€
You enter through the screened porch and hollerâ€¦
â€œHey Non.â€ She says , â€œLet me get you something.â€ 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? Â Non did. It was a simpler day for sure. What made her happy?Â 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, â€œyou have no idea how lucky you are.â€
Non was protective of us. After a bit too much celebration in my teens, I would have my friends drop me off at Nonâ€™s. I would say, â€œNon, I am sleeping over tonight.â€ Soon, I would hear in that strong high pitched voice on the phone; â€œBilly (my dad-who was waiting up), go to bed, he is here.â€ Thanks, Non.
My uncle Donald Pesci
, a real writer, was also a beneficiary of Nonâ€™s love:
â€œI 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.â€
Maybe it is my forties that has induced such reflection. I canâ€™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, Donaldâ€™s words are exactly as I feelâ€¦
“When the bells in heaven ring, my prayer is they will sound like Nellieâ€™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.