Yesterday, my only living grandparent turned 97. With four children, sixteen grandchildren, and a dozen (I think) great-grandchildren, she is certainly the matriarch of my father’s side of the family.
My siblings and cousins posted pictures on Facebook yesterday of themselves visiting Grandma on her special day. My sister Liz also posted an older picture of Liz and Grandma and that gave me an idea. . . Long before I started this blog, I took one of my most memorable trips: me, my brother, two cousins, and then-82-year-old Grandma Gallo went to Italy. Upon our return, I made a scrapbook. But it wasn’t just pictures. . . I told a few stories, as well. So here it is. Happy Birthday, Grandma Gallo!
So that’s not the whole story. . . the opportunity to take this trip was so important to me that there was a thought that I’d quit my job if they wouldn’t give me the time off. For that story, click here.
Many of those people who started to talking to Grandma were Italian men of a certain age. . . on the hunt for a wife. But they knew better than to talk to me, Steph, or Vanessa first. They knew the best way to start was to charm Grandma. That story is here if you want to read it.
Let me repeat that: Grandma can’t swim. But that didn’t stop her from getting on not one, not two, but three ever-smaller boats in order to go see the Blue Grotto.
The four of us grandchildren alternated “Grandma Duty.” On your day, you were the one to be sure that Grandma was safe and well cared for. Trust me–none of us minded having Grandma Duty. And, in all honesty, most of the time we were all right there with her. Who would want to miss any time with her?
Roberto started crying at one point as Grandma was speaking. She stopped and asked him what was wrong. He explained that Grandma speaks a dialect of Italian that is dying out. Literally. It’s the dialect of his grandparents. He hadn’t heard it in so long. And when he did, the memories of his older relatives came flooding back. He truly admired her. He was just a teenager when she had visited back in 1969 and was beyond thrilled we were able to take the time to connect with them.
And today, 15 years after the trip, I finally looked up a translation: Something about a beer in the rules with the code of the road. Maybe it’s non-alcoholic?
Why were we shopping for priestly garb in Rome? This is probably the best story from the whole trip for me. . . and I can’t believe I’ve never posted it. I’ll do that next!
Last month, my sister Meg bought a digital picture frame for Grandma Gallo. We can all email pictures to it and it rotates through all the pictures we send. I sent a few of Michael and I in Barbados, a few from our wedding. But I didn’t hear anything about those; Mom texted me that Grandma LOVED the Italy pictures.