You called us your “kiddies.” We called you “Mam-ma, Grandma, Grandma Mela." You made the sign of the cross on our foreheads and said “May God Bless You.” And now every night I do the same for my kids and they say it to each other. You never tattled on us when you babysat even when we were rotten. I looked forward to sleepovers on Plumbrook Court. And Sunday dinners at your house. And Christmas Eve. You always made Christmas so special. We were the luckiest grandkids – we even got Christmas Eve gifts! And the best cookies in the world. They were always unveiled after our wonderful dinner of sausage and peppers and lasagna. You were at every birthday dinner. You always had to see us on our actual birthdays! I will never forget our trips to Nutley or our beach vacations in New Jersey and Ocean City. You used to love to sit on the porch at night and listen to the ocean. (And I remember when Alex was a baby, he sat on your lap on the beach and you fed him a peach!! A random thought I know, but one I will never forget).
And we grew up. And you were still there calling us your kiddies. You celebrated our graduations and danced at our weddings. And held our babies. I still remember coming home when Nicki was in labor with Sophie and you were sitting at the kitchen table timing her contractions. In every picture I have of you in recent years, you have a great grandbaby in your arms. They brought you so much joy. As you always said, “I just such a kick out of them!” And they loved their Grandma Mela. Alex is already calling you his angel and is praying to you! He learned in church that you can pray any time of the day, so he said that he knows anytime he wants to talk to you he can…not just at bedtime. He is wondering if you are getting free ice cream in heaven. And he told me he will never forget you. He wants to put a picture of you in his room so he can always see you.
When I told Isabella you were in heaven, she said, “Grandma is in heaven with Jesus. I wish we could take an airplane to see her.” Me too, sweet girl. Me too.
And don’t worry about Poppy. We will do our best to take good care of him. Alex told me the other night that he had a good idea. He said, “We can go visit Poppy every couple of days. Remember Mom, when we would always go to their house?” Yes. I remember. Eating pizza, drinking wine and Anisette, trying to drink coffee (you always made it so strong), and then eating candy…reeses and green leaves. You loved having us there. You would always clean the floors so the babies wouldn’t get germs when they were crawling around. Sitting around your kitchen table chatting will always be one of my fondest memories.
I know without a doubt you are in heaven with your mom and dad and your sisters and brothers. I am sure you are playing poker. Hopefully you are having better luck then you always did in Atlantic City. I know you will always be looking down on all of us. But I want you here. I am really not sure how I am going to live without you in my life. I miss you so much already. I want you to hold my new baby in February and bless his forehead. I promise to tell him all about you, and I will tell him about all the times you made the sign of the cross on my belly and said, “May God bless you.” And I will tell him how the last time I saw you, you put your hand on my belly and said, “I love that belly.” You loved him before you even knew him, and I will make sure he knows it. And one more promise – I will always hold you in my heart and never forget how much you loved me – I am so blessed to be your oldest grandchild and to have had you here with me for 34 years. I love you Grandma Mela. May God Bless You!!