SOL: My Italian Grandmother

No, I’m not introducing you to my new imaginary friend.  I’m remembering a wonderful little moment I had with one of the ladies in my work neighborhood.  This happened just when things were starting to be bad last month, and I never got around to writing it.

There is a teenty, tiny woman who lives around the corner from my job.  She is straight out of a sepia print of “Street in Sicily, 1925.”  She wears all black, she wears a head scarf, she moves as steady and sure as a tank.  She’s out in any weather, taking care of her business, keeping her little front yard neat and trim.  She’s about four-food-ten.  (And I know shorter people hate to hear this, but I just have to say it: she’s unbelievably cute.)

Over the handful of years that I’ve been at my job, we’ve developed a smile-and-say-good-morning relationship, which pleases me.  If it’s winter and she sees me, she might expand and give me a stern once-over and a: “You warm enough in only that?”  And if I say I am, she’ll shake her head and say: “You’re young yet.”

Last month, we finally had our first real conversation.  Maybe because we were caught at the corner and had to wait half a second for the light.  Maybe because the trees are blooming.  Who knows.  She turned to me and asked if I’d had a nice Easter.  I asked her the same.  She talked about her family a little and how much she enjoys her four grandchildren … so long as it’s not every day she has to be with them!  We talked about how annoyingly cold the spring had been and then said goodbye at her door as I continued my walk to the train.

Nothing much, but it made me very happy.  Her stern face gives the impression that she’ll be a bit crochety, that she’s more likely to shake her fist and tell me to get off her lawn than to break into a smile and pat my arm.  But there she is in all her cuteness, making my day.

We’ve seen each other a few times since then, and she has clearly adopted me, decided that I’m one of her people.  She smiles and jokes with me.  Last week there as a moment when I thought she was going to give me a dope slap!  I’m definitely one of the family now.


10 thoughts on “SOL: My Italian Grandmother

  1. I almost feel like you only meet people like this in cities. The suburbs are just not sidewalk friendly enough for that kind of thing to happen. It also makes me think of that lady with the dog we met before the rock camp concert.


    1. Ha! I’d forgotten about that woman. She was such a character. I agree that it’s easier to meet people in this way in a city just because there are more people on the street. Outside of cities, people rely too much (?) on cars to conduct their day to day business so there isn’t much opportunity to meet your neighbors the way there is here.


  2. My long-time neighbor wasn’t stern but she definitely ruled the roost at our building. She moved end of March and I was truly mourning her leaving.

    Italian. Ah, good food. Smack if that’s so not pc to say. lol


    1. Hmm … I hadn’t thought about the good food aspect, and I really should have: I have an Italian grandmother in my morning class, and she is an amazing cook … and she loves to feed us. Her meatballs are a work of art!


    1. Oh, you know, Bonnie … a dope slap’s the one you give someone upside the back of the head when they do something dopey! In my family, it wasn’t a slap so much as a nudge: putting your hand on the side of someone’s head and giving them a little push. Fox can attest that our brother was very fond of that one!


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