A Recollection of my Nonna by Jordan Pino

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A Few Introductory Comments

Jordan, just out of the 9th grade, is in a summer composition program at Lake Highland.  He was asked, as his opening assignment, to write an essay on a topic which affected him personally.

He wrote it, and after it was finished, he asked me if I would read it.

I did. . .and swallowed hard to get through it all, although I couldn’t hold back the tears.

Several days later, I asked him if I could publish it, and he said “OK”, but only if I included an introduction.

This introduction is the only one you’ll need. . .trust me!

Jordan A. Pino
Mr. Sprouse and Mr. Driscoll
Advanced Composition
29 June 2010
A Recollection of my Nonna

When I was a little boy, the world seemed different. All was small and everything that was bigger than I seemed to be almighty…almost invincible. Ever since I was born, my family was the center of life. My dad was the ultimate role model; my mother was reality, and someone who would take care of me. But my grandmother, my “Nonna,” was a great woman who resembled all that was right and proper. I used to believe she was truly invincible.

When I was younger, I would frequently sleep over at her house. My grandfather or “Nonno” had passed away a little bit after I was born and my Nonna lived alone. When I would visit, we would do many things together. We would sometimes watch TV. However, many times, we would do things that a young five-year-old normally doesn’t do. For example, she taught me how to knit. She also taught me how to sew, by hand and machine. Sometimes we would play childish games like hide and seek, or simple card games like “go fish.” We would also read books together: Nonna reading “Ogi” in Italian and I reading “Dog and Cat” in simple 1st grade English.

Always, when I visited she would cook for me. Nonna was a fantastic cook. All of her famous Italian meals were prepared every time I would sleep over. After dinner and in good weather we would occasionally take a walk around the neighborhood. Nonna’s house used to be a lot of fun.

Around the age of six, Nonna had her first accident. She was driving her little, red car on the way to her house. She was coming around the bend of the street in her neighborhood when she decided to slow down. The only problem was Nonna had mistaken the brake pedal for the gas pedal, which accelerated her car into the neighbor’s bushes. When my dad found out, he was annoyed at first and then became really scared for my grandmother when he fully appreciated what had happened:  Nonna’s driving days were over.

A few years later my Nonna had her second accident; she became sick with pneumonia and entered the hospital. For a while, she was deathly ill because her immune system was having trouble fighting the pneumonia and most of the doctors had given up hope, but after several months, she left the hospital, weakened but alive.

Her third accident was especially bad for her. Nonna was walking about the house, doing her daily routine when she fell on her hip. She called 911 on a nearby phone and was rushed to the hospital. After she recovered, she no longer could walk and has remained in a wheel chair ever since.  She would no longer be leaving her house except for occasional visits to our house or a restaurant and would require 24/7 care.

This is when I realized my Nonna was no longer invincible.

With age comes understanding. I see my Nonna every single Sunday after church. Although we tell everyone she is “strong like bull,” each visit we see Nonna, her health is evidently worse and worse. It used to be one accident after the other, which affected her physical strength, but now it is the slow deterioration of her mental health. When I see her, she is no longer active in our conversations, she is agitated by her inability to put words together, and she can’t walk at all and can barely hold her cup to her lips. I know now that the lady who taught me many skills, but also how to be respectful and proper, was slipping herself.

When I was six or seven, never in a million years would I have thought that Nonna wouldn’t be able to even get into her bed without a 24 hour assistant. Her only two reliefs would be living in her own house and not in a nursing facility, and, most of all, each of us being able to see her every weekend.

I used to think she was invincible and now I know she isn’t.

However, I know, no matter what, she was great and incredibly strong. Although she is undeniably getting weaker by the day, at 88 years old she has surpassed all of her brothers and sisters and has had a wonderful life. What’s really left of my grandmother is a memory. A memory of  someone who was once bigger than life. And what she has left behind is in my dad and the stories he tells of her. But above all the one thing that she keeps important and dear to her heart is the importance of family––something that I will never lose.



3 Responses to “A Recollection of my Nonna by Jordan Pino”

1. Tony Martinez Says: 

July 8th, 2010 at 4:16 am

A beautiful story and a gifted child. Larry, you are rich in God’s blessings.


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