As I gazed into the cupboard during my nighttime lunch making ritual, my eye caught the marshmallow fluff. My sensible self said “no way – too much sugar for their lunches!” Then I though of Mom who always made us peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and I immediately grabbed the jar!
Mom knew when to keep things tight and when to let loose – like allowing marshmallow fluff for lunch. She seemed to have a keen sense of balance in this delicate area of parenting. I don’t know how she did it – but she was a master! I’m constantly trying to follow in her footsteps, but I sure have not been able to figure out her recipe for success yet.
As a grandmother, there was no one better than Nona. She had all 8 grandchildren wrapped around her finger and endeared to her for life. Her playful attitude combined with her generous and loving ways, made her the one person that the grandchildren most wanted to spend time with, next to Papa. When the grandchildren arrived at the Cape, Nona would always have a special treat waiting for them – this would be anything from a peanut butter cup to the newest Lego set. Then, she and Papa would have a special outing planned like a trip to the Fish Farm, beach, Flying Horses or Jam Kitchen. Such simple destinations, but so special when spent with Nona and Papa.
Nona also passed on her very special traditions to the grandchildren. When Grace, the eldest grandchild, was quite young – Nona taught her about the beauty of sea glass. Together they would comb the Cape Cod beaches over the years for this colored treasure. Grace has continued the search and recently showed me a bunch of seaglass that she found at the beach in Fairfield, CT. As she held out her hand proudly, Grace said, “Wouldn’t Nona be happy mom?”
The truest sign of a grandmother’s success in life is the love of her grandchildren. While out to dinner recently with some dear friends, one of them shared a sweet story about driving her granddaughter home from school. From the back seat of her car, she heard her granddaughter say, “I love you Grammy.” This unexpected sign of affection melted my friend’s heart and caused her to almost drive off the road. My mom would have felt the same way.
Mom received this kind of love from all 8 grandchildren during her 75 years on this earth. Even more heartwarming is the love they showered on her in her last 2 weeks on earth. When I close my eyes I can still picture little Johnny laying over Mom with a big hug, while she lay quietly in the Hospice bed. He was giving her his love even though she could not respond. I recall with gratitude the beautiful voice of Tasha, a high school freshman, as she confidently and with such love sat next to Nona telling her about school and all her new classes. Despite Nona’s inability to respond, Tasha spoke to her in her old familiar way. When Grace came home from college to see Nona, she spoke to her of hopes and dreams of a future and of all the things they had discussed over Grace’s 20 years. The others sat for many days and brought their gifts to Nona – Andrew, Julie, JoJo, Bella and Emma. They all prayed many rosaries around their Nona as she had taught them. They walked her to heaven in the most beautiful way, treating her in the same exact way as they had always done. She would have expected nothing less.
As a parent, there was no one better. She gave in when it was needed and held the line when it was needed. The result was a happy, loving home filled with children and grandchildren who adored her on every level. I need to follow her example and perhaps make more peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. They make me smile and that is a good thing as Mom has shown us all.