|This hung above my Grandmother's stove and now hangs above mine.|
I have the greatest memories of the days and nights spent as a child at her home: from sleepovers when I was allowed to stay up late and watch episodes of the Love Boat and Fantasy Island while she snored on the couch next to me to the sounds and smells of her frying meatballs on Sunday mornings. As a teen, when my parents drove me nuts for no other reason than they were my parents, I would escape to my Grandmother's house. All my fittings for my wedding dress were done with me perched precariously atop her kitchen table, and her adept seamstress hands pinning and repining. When I finally had my own children, I soaked up her parenting wisdom (my favorite quote: "The mother is the doctor.") and delighted in the love she showered on her great-grandchildren.
Nothing in my Grandmother's house ever changed. Growing up on a small, remote island off the coast of Sicily and arriving in the United States as an immigrant in the midst of the Great Depression gave her a natural detachment from material things. It wasn't that she didn't like nice things - her home was meticulously, albeit simply, furnished. It was just that she saw no reason to replace something that was still perfectly useful. The result was that her home remained exactly the same year after year, until she passed away at nearly 99 years old. It was that unchanging quality that I missed the most after her death. Life at Grandma's house was like her love- stable, steady, rock-solid and unchanging.
I was well into my forties when she died, but her death rocked me as if I were a child. Reminders from well-meaning friends of the length and beauty of her life offered me little consolation. I missed her presence in my life: I missed her hugs, I missed her voice, I missed her meatballs and I missed the home that I considered one of the happiest places on earth.
I turned over that quote in my mind for many months. I have come to appreciate the truth in its words. I thought that what I missed the most about my Grandmother was the permanence of her home and all that represented to me. What I have discovered is that her home was just a dwelling for her love, and that remains alive, well and exactly as it always was: stable, steady, rock-solid and unchanging.