Saying Goodbye to Ninny


On June 26, 2020, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Ninny (my mother-in-law and Little Lewie's grandmother).  If 2020 wasn't hard enough, Ninny learned just five weeks earlier that she had stage four stomach and uterine Cancer.  The news was a blow to all of us, but we never would have guessed that just a short five weeks later, she would be joining her husband (Papa) in heaven.

Ninny was a staple at all of our family gatherings--picnics, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, weddings, baptisms, and First Communions (to name a few).  Little Lewie was her fourth grandchild (out of six grandchildren), and Ninny even had one great grandchild.  She LOVED kids, and needless to say, she LOVED watching Lewie as a baby when I started going back to work on a part-time basis.  Her house was filled with goodies (cookies, cupcakes, ice cream), and in the background, some sort of cartoon would be playing on TV.  Anytime Little Lewie visited, he'd ask for her special cinnamon toast. (I personally loved her coffee and cheese cake.)  Of course, Florence knew how to cook just about anything Italian, too.

When I started dating Lew, Florence's first question to me was "How old are you?"  My husband had been in two serious relationships before me--one with a woman about ten years older and another with a girl ten years younger.  She had seemed relieved when I told her I was only five years younger than Lew; of course, neither of us thought at the time that we would become relatives through marriage.

Through the years, I learned more and more about Florence; she loved telling stories and could talk for hours through the night.  There were stories about how she and her husband met; stories about her three children; stories about moving to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts; stories about living in different neighborhoods of Waterbury, CT; stories about how many bones my husband broke throughout his childhood; stories about her strange neighbors; stories about her children's friends; stories about her ceramics studio; and stories about when she worked as a recreational therapist at Abbott Terrace Health Center.  Yes, when she grabbed a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, that was the cue to sit back and relax because I knew I would be visiting for a while.

After Papa's death, Florence was crushed.  The two of them had been married for close to 50 years; she no longer had her life partner.  (Of course, before his death, Papa had been sick for ten of those years, and Florence was his caregiver, visiting nurse, and wife all rolled up into one.)  Unfortunately, most of the years I knew Florence was during this very difficult time; her heart was troubled and so the only time we'd get a few glimpses of her old self would be during the holidays.

Before Papa's illness, she was funny, generous, free-spirited, spiritual, artsy, and sometimes even the life of the party.  She loved painting and ceramics, flowers, nature, photos, and loose flowy clothes.  She adored spoiling her grandchildren, and she loved when her children would tease her--especially about her long-winded stories or her martyr syndrome complex.  (Florence would sacrifice anything for her children and grandchildren, and she wasn't shy in letting us know about it either.)

Yes, the Coronavirus has changed everything this year, but so has Ninny's death.  My husband went from anxious/lifesaving mode in June to pure grief and sadness in July.  We're all sad.  The saying, "Time heals all wounds" is fitting here.  I wish there was some sort of magic pill we could take to make everything happy and carefree again, but unfortunately, I know that can only come with time.

I end this post with my husband's favorite picture of his mom.  As the story goes, my husband was in a popular cover band in South Carolina during his graduate school days.  One of his favorite life moments is when he was able to tour with the band in Connecticut, and all of his friends and family came out to see him.  (I didn't know him then.)  His mom was so proud of him that she rushed the stage and kissed his cheek while he was playing; the evidence is in this photo here...

She was super proud of my husband and his musical talent...  I think she was proud of his choice in a wife, too!


I love to read your comments. Please feel free to share.