WHAT MY ITALIAN FAMILY TAUGHT ME ABOUT COMMUNITY THAT OUR WORLD COULD USE MORE OF RIGHT NOW
When my grandmother died, I was forced to rethink how I could keep our traditions alive.
In December my grandmother died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. I’m a fourth-generation Italian, and my grandmother was the epicenter of our world. At her funeral, I pondered how our family would fare without its matriarch; I began to fear that without her, we might lose the togetherness that is so central to an Italian family’s lifeblood. I was overcome by an urgency to hold onto the lessons she and my grandfather, who is now slowly fading from dementia and Parkinson’s, had passed on. I didn’t want us to forget the stories of where we started, the stories that held us all together.
Being Italian makes you nostalgic for things you never knew. I grew up hearing stories about how my great-grandmother lived in the kitchen day and night cooking for her people; about her five sisters—one of whom raised them all, and one of whom tried to nose dive into an open grave to express her grief for when a family member died (we aren’t known for our subtlety). I heard stories about my great-grandfather’s opera records, and my grandfather’s constant need to be rescued from shenanigans by his cousins. My family’s stories have always filled me with a warmth and familiarity that is tangible.
There’s something about the sense of famiglia I inherited that I think our world could use more of today. We take care of each other; we encourage each other; we nourish each other, and not just literally. But doing this takes effort, as I realized when my grandmother passed. Our family traditions won’t just happen if we don’t pass them on; the stories won’t last if we don’t tell them. Continue reading at VerilyMag.com.