Well, right now it is right between my Nana’s birthday and my Papa’s death-day.
I had a bit of an unusual upbringing. I lived in a multigenerational household. I lived with my mom, my grandparents, and my great-grandfather. My grandma I called Nana, my grandpa I called Jagee, and my great-grandpa I called Papa.
It was a nice childhood. I had a big backyard, plenty of people to play with, and lots of love. My uncle even lived with us until I was about 5, and I cried many a nights when he moved out.
Well, March 5th was my Nana’s birthday and March 16th was the day my Papa died. They both passed away in 2002. It was one of the most difficult years of my life. This post is not to dwell on the fact that I feel the hole of them being gone everyday, but to celebrate the things they taught me and the things that I remember about them.
Nana was a hoarder. In the truest sense of the word. She did teach me to love shopping, though, and she also taught me not to hoard things by example. (This also goes to my aunt who taught me to purge, which is one of my favorite forms of therapy).
Nana taught me to sacrifice for the people I love and that family comes first.
Nana taught me about God, even if I don’t follow that path anymore.
Nana taught me how to cook. Almost all of my favorite comfort foods are recipes memorized from her teaching. It almost seems like writing them down will ruin them.
Nana always indulged my true passions, which because she passed away so early in my life, included several children’s book series, Beanie Babies, and my friends.
Nana always treated my friends like family and treated her friends the same. Her best friends have always been a huge factor in my life. In fact, I am friends with one of them on Facebook and I value her communications and input.
Nana taught me the awesomeness of a day trip.
Nana taught me the importance of tradition. While I keep some traditions from my earlier years, I have made some of my own and cherish them almost as much because I want my daughter to have the same amazing memories that I have.
Nana had terrible handwriting and was a terrible singer, both of which I think she played up just to make us laugh. At least the singing part….
Nana was odd sometimes. She remembered the exact date of her first period and called everybody and anybody when I got mine.
I currently have her Hope Chest in my bedroom. I learned a lot more about her young adulthood as I grew older and it makes the Hope Chest all the more special. I also have a few of her blankets that she made, the outfits she made for me as a little girl, some of her favorite beanie babies, and other odds and ends that remind me of her. As a matter of fact, my daughter loves giraffes and that was Nana’s favorite animal.
Everyday, even though we didn’t always see eye to eye, I wish that she was around to meet my husband and my little girl. Same with Papa. They would have loved them both and vice versa. Nana was a spoiler and Papa was just as bad.
Papa taught me how to play “War”.
He called the couch “davenport”.
He always worried about me being cold while playing on the floor.
He was the one who gave permission for me to have a pool.
He made me love cheeseburgers and George Webb.
Papa made me my first two wheel bike.
He wore t-shirts until they were thread bare and I thought that was a requirement to hang out in the garage.
He ate canned peaches in his oatmeal, just like I do now.
Whenever you asked him what he wanted to eat, he would ALWAYS say pasta fagioli.
Once my uncle got married, he would sneak shots of Amaretto because he was “cold”. I specified when he started doing this because my aunt started bring around amaretto at about that time 😉
He was my best friend when I was little. When I was afraid to tell the other “grown ups” about something, I would tell him.
He wouldn’t let us redecorate the house until the carpet was so worn through that there were more cover up rugs than carpet, or my mom needed modifications, because his late wife decorated it and he didn’t want to change it.
He was an excellent love letter writer. I know this because after he passed away we found a box of letters from him to his wife. He was a man madly in love, even after she was gone for decades.
Both of these people helped turn me into the person I am today. While I may be much different from what they imagined, I know that they would still love me and I still think of them when making decisions. I learned a lot from them and I miss them everyday. I can make real spaghetti sauce because of Nana, and I can honestly say that at least one piece of furniture in my apartment is hand made, original, and older than me because of Papa.
Also, a few other things I learned from them in one word list: Melamine, formica, telemundo, coupon, romance, albums, (this counts as one word because I thought it was until I could spell…) Dicontino (Dick Contino), garlic, and grease.