My "Second Mother"

I'm going to tell you a story about my grandma, shown here with me on Christmas Day in her kitchen.

My grandma practically raised me when I was a little girl. My sister and I are only 17 months apart, so when I was little, my grandma would often pick me up at my house and take me to hers so that my mom could deal with my sister, who according to my mom, "loved to hear herself cry" (sorry Karrie!).

My grandma became a grandma at a young age: 46. And she is blessed with the youthful look so many in my family have, so when she would take me places people often thought I was hers. And my grandma, very flattered of course, let them believe that.

I spent so much time with her, starting at a very early age, and because of that, once I became old enough to voice my opinion, I was adamant that I never wanted to leave her house. I wanted to move in with her. Spending the night at her house whenever my mom would let me, and then most weekends once I went to school wasn't enough. It wasn't that I didn't love my mom. It was both that I was deeply attached to my grandma, and that she spoiled me rotten. I didn't have to share attention with my sister, as I did at home. So, I pitched many an angry fit when my mom would arrive to take me home. I truly considered her my second mother, and she thought of me as her sixth child.

My grandma became my rescuer, too, during several incidents when I "acted out." When at four years old I decided to hack off my three year old sister's almost waist-length blond hair the day before my mom was to take her to get her photos taken, my grandma sped over to my house, scooped me up, and prevented my mom from murdering me. And when I threw a wooden block at my sister's head, which resulted in four stitches, my grandma saved me then too.

In many ways my grandma is the typical warm, loving Italian grandma. She is an excellent cook (although she does not bake. She leaves that to my great aunt). She is generous to a fault, spoils her grandchildren, welcomes her kids' and grandkids' friends into her house with open arms, and is always trying to feed everyone, all the time. But in many ways she isn't the typical grandma at all. There are no rooms in her house that are off limits. There weren't fragile knick-knacks that her grandchildren lived in fear of knocking over when we were younger. I didn't have to stay quiet in her house, or go to bed early when I slept over.

As a grew into a teenager, and wanted to spend time with my friends on the weekend rather than sleeping over at her house, I know she began to long for the times when I was little and was always hers. And she still tells me so today. She is nostalgic for the past in the way I think few people are. Because in many ways time stopped for her when my papa died from cancer, 11 years ago this coming August, at the young age of 69.

My grandma and papa were married for over 40 years, and when he died, a large part of her did too. She lost her lively energetic spirit. She lost the ability to celebrate any special occasion without shedding tears for my papa, as she wished he could be there with her. Her house is a shrine to my papa, with photos of him everywhere. It's almost as if she believes that if she can't see his face everywhere she looks, she will forget him. She doesn't realize that he is with her always, even when she can't see his face.

It kills me to see my grandma this way, when I know what a different person she was before my papa passed away. The baby I am carrying will never replace my papa. I know she will miss him as much as she did before. But I do not think it's a coincidence that assuming that all goes well, this baby will be born in August, the month in which my papa died. I want this baby almost as much for myself as I want it for her. A new life has a way of changing people, and I believe this baby will change her for the better.

8 Responses to “My "Second Mother"”

  1. # Blogger Binulatti

    When you tell her, I think we will see a light come on in her that we haven't seen in many years. It kills me that I can't be there in person to share the joy.
    A very sweet post.

    And it's almost all true 'cause for the record, I cried to get you out of the house, not 'cause I liked to hear it. :-P

    Love and kisses,
    Your sister (you know, the one with the teeny forehead scar?)  

  2. # Blogger Marie

    Tee hee (laughing at your sister's comment)... I once bopped my sister in the face with a doll & knocked a tooth out.

    It's wonderful that you and your Grandma have each other. I can't wait to hear all about it when you tell her about her great grandchild... maybe you can set up a web cam? (joking, mostly)

    Very sweet picture too!  

  3. # Blogger Christine

    It must be an older sister thing, my sis will tell you in great detail of the various itty bitty scars that I have *caused* (read: that she brought on herself).

    My grandmother and I were very close too. I am sure that this baby will bring unbelievable joy to you and your whole family.  

  4. # Anonymous Clare Eats

    I think causing a younger sister pain is an older sisters right ;)

    Your second mum will be soooo excited!!

    BTW I have a similar relationship with my Oma, I think my mum was always jealous  

  5. # Blogger Alisha

    How sweet!!! Now I know why I like you so much...you actually come from Cara's family! LOL!

    I can't wait to hear how the "telling" goes!  

  6. # Blogger Kristi

    Karrie-We will try our hardest to videotape it for you!

    Marie-lol. What a great blog post that would be. My sister wants us to tape "the telling" for her, so we're going to try.

    Christine-Ha! Yes, it is definitely a right of older siblings, given at birth, I believe.

    Clare-I agree. Definitely. Grandmas are the best, aren't they?

    Alisha-maybe Cara and I were separated at birth? hee-hee.  

  7. # Anonymous Anonymous
  8. # Anonymous Anonymous

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