October 27, 2012 | Peekskill, New York It's hard to not think about my Gram when I think about my childhood. She was a huge part of my life. Caring for my brother, Timmy and I everyday after school, we spent a great deal of time at her and Great-Grandma's house. I can actually hear the sizzle of Italian meatballs when I think about her home, and I picture her standing over the stove rolling them into the perfect meatball shapes, and then frying them up until they were perfectly crispy on the outside. Sipping on orange Kool-aid, I would sit at the kitchen table and watch her work, trying to wait patiently for the special bowl that was always set aside that wouldn't go into the pot of sauce.
Orange Kool-Aid and Italian meatballs...that's really what it was all about at Grandma's house when I was little - it couldn't get any better than that.
Fast forward many, many years to 2001. My wedding was on July 14 of that year, just about a month before Gram's 80th birthday. Scott and I wanted to honor her special day somehow at our wedding. We had a special dessert of chocolate-covered strawberries served and we arranged a special dance between her and Scott to "That's Amore." What the crowd - and my Gram - didn't realize was that we had devised a secret plan for my great friend Mark to bust in on their dance, push Scott out of the way and steal Gram away for the special dance. The entire room was laughing hysterically at the way he grabbed her and was tossing her around - as the song in the background appropriately sang - "like a pizza pie." The smile on her face was priceless. You could tell she loved every minute of it and she was so happy. I knew what a big deal it was for her to make the trip all the way from New York to San Francisco to be at my wedding. I was happy to share a part of my wedding day with her. The photo you see here (below) was taken on that day in a beautiful little chapel on a hill overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Whenever I look at this photo, I see peace and happiness in my Gram's eyes. I know times weren't always easy for her, but this is the image I want to always picture when I think of my Gram - proud and content, happy and at peace.
Gram, it was so hard to watch you slip away from us on that morning, but I am glad I was there by your side with you. I like to believe you heard every word I said and that you felt all of our love surrounding you. No matter how old I am, I will always be your #1 granddaughter and your #1 Petunia.
Rest peacefully, Gram. I love you.