She Raised Me
The woman who raised the woman who raised me died on this day years ago.
As many years have passed as the age I was when she passed. I’m humbled by how the years swiftly go.
An immigrant woman who boldly stepped foot In a new world during the Great Depression, she spoke little English, which made me think she was dumb but I was the fool to think this.
She was wise but too humble to brag or insist. She knew things I may well never know. An angel on Earth, she accepted pain like a martyr. This tiny immigrant woman had worth.
My Nonna was a fighter who chose LOVE as her weapon, which led me to think she was weak. I perceived her to be a dusty doormat until I found myself used and abused.
She would turn her cheek, again and again, and learning of this angered me. “I guess she didn’t know better; how to defend herself,” but of course she was strength and durability.
When someone is wronged it is easier to react with the same venom received. To gossip about another’s behavior feels so good but does no good. She would pray and bless and cook and tidy and mend and scrub and coddle and feed and feed and feed her family.
“Mangia!” Refusing a 3rd helping was met with her sincere inquiry, “Wassa matta, you no likey?” Heading out for the day, we were cloaked by her warning to “Be caff!” and when we were funny, she’d give her 1, brief, hearty, “HA!”
She was always at home for us after school, ready with a snack and, later, dinner - all day, every day serving others. I didn’t yet know that she was teaching me how to be a good Christian woman; a loving mother and grandmother, which I hope to someday be.
She lived a Weebles’ life. “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”
For many years, she endured physical and mental abuse, attracting in ignorant, hateful, unevolved, ungrateful people who bit the hand that fed them. By the time I showed up, a month after she’d turned sixty, she’d been mistreated, but not defeated. She’d been battered, but not broken. I was none the wiser, for all I knew was her kindness, patience, caring, loving, hugging and catering to us like a woman unscathed by that which tried to shatter her. She was so buoyed by love, it coated her and kept her resilient.
Not many are like her, strong enough to endure; wise enough to forgive; sad enough to empathize and compassionate enough to teach. Through her simple act of living, she raised me. I hope I’m rising, Nonna. Grazie per tutto che mi ha insegnato. Vi voglio tantissimo e per sempre.
About the author ~
Annette was born and raised in NY, she grew up on Long Island. She wrote a couple of solo shows, the latest being, “It Ain’t Pretty,” about a woman coming to terms with pregnancy. Her work has been performed in the United Solo, Flying Solo 3 and Women at Work Festivals, as well as chosen as a semi-finalist in the New York New Works (NYNW) Theatre Festival 2016! Connect with Annette at AnnetteGuarrasi.com.