Saturday, September 6, 2014


Inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop - I went with:

2.) Find a photo of your grandmother’s hometown and share it.

I want to share a photo I found (on Google Earth) of the house where my grandmother was born, and, I want to share my grandmother.

Her name was Josephine (we called her Mimi), born in Revere, Massachusetts in March 1909.  She was one of 11 children - named for a baby sister who died tragically not long before my grandmother was born.  Two of her older siblings (one did not survive her first year) were born in Italy and the other children were born in the house in Revere where they were all raised.  Her "baby" brother, Ed, still lives in the house.  My great-uncle is 92 and is still as active and busy as ever.

When I think about the stories she told us and what my dad and great-uncle filled in, there's no way to sugar-coat it -- she lead a hard life.  Her dad died when she was a young teenager and she had to leave school to help support her family.  She started out making sugar/flour sacks and eventually became a seamstress.  For a time in her early 20s she even designed clothes.  My grandmother certainly knew her way around fabric and the sewing machine.  She made so many of our clothes when we we young.  I have memories of my sister and I in matching dresses that she made....white summer fabric with small daisies for trim.  We each had a summer set - white with a strawberry design - shorts & sleeveless top to match - with these fabric strawberries for trim (she liked trim).  I know we had other things but those outfits are planted firmly in my mind right now.  She used to cut out patterns on her dining room table -- this heavy wooden monster of a table.  I can still hear the sound of the scissors on the table - it was a sound I loved.  One of my cousins has that dining room set and has taken beautiful care of it.

She married my grandfather in 1937 - ancient to be married in those days.  They had 4 children.  My parents live in the house where my dad was raised & where my siblings and I were raised.  Around 1950, my grandfather built a summer house in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  We spent may happy summer days in that house.  My aunt and uncle still own that house, and live just next door to it.

Funny story about the date of my grandparents' wedding.  In 2010, my husband proposed to me on August 22nd -- which would have been their 73rd anniversary.  Of course, he had no way of knowing that, but I was so happy to share that special date - it made me feel close to them.

In addition to the sewing machine, my grandmother could crochet beautifully.  I wasn't interested in learning for a long time, but when I was finally ready, the teacher appeared.  I was pathetic at it for a long time and never developed the skill that she had, but she always encouraged me and helped fix my mistakes.  Once I even called her to complain about how something I was making wouldn't come out right and she knew over the phone what I was doing wrong without even looking at my work.  As she grew older and her eyesight failed, she couldn't see up close.  She continued to create beautiful pieces because she knew how the stitches felt.  I still use the first hook she gave me.  Everything turns out better with that hook.

Sewing, crocheting -- all took a backseat to Mimi's pizza.  She made it (of course) from scratch and it wouldn't last.  We ate it hot and we ate it cold.  Most often we'd be walking around eating it - who needed a dish?  It was so good.  My cousin Cheree can make it just the way our grandmother did.  I think a gift of pizza from Cheree to me is way overdue.

I loved spending time with Mimi.  Summer nights in Plymouth with my sister and cousins watching Lawrence Welk.  Sitting at her kitchen table watching her frost cookies.  Listening to the intricate lives of the people on the soaps she watched (her stories).  Finding large print word search books as her eyesight began to fail.  Crying with her after my grandfather died -- he drove her crazy but she wouldn't have lived her life any differently.  How long it took me to convince her that, despite my leaving the Catholic faith - a faith she remained 100% devoted to - the Protestants were not a bad bunch and I could still be a good Christian without a Pope to guide me.  Trying, without success, to comfort her after my uncle passed away -- she would never be the same and would follow him 8 months later. 

This January she will be gone 10 years.  I knew I was so lucky to have a grandmother still at age 41.  I miss her so very much.  I wish she could have met my husband - he would have charmed her socks off.  She always knew I would get married, but reminded me that the good ones were hard to find and to be patient.  I wish I wrote down her recipes - there are things I miss and cannot make the way she made them (Cheree....bring me pizza).  I wish I started to crochet when I was 8 instead of 35.  I wish I wish I wish....

We all know that life is short and people are precious.  Most of us don't learn that lesson until way too late.  If you think you have plenty of time - I say to you - no you don't.  Write the recipe down and make it.  Learn to crochet or sew or whatever.  Record your family history -- good & bad.  And if you have someone to teach you something, let them.  You won't regret the special time you spent together.




  1. Sorry for your loss, they are great people to really listen to.

  2. Wow, what a beautiful life and legacy she left behind. And I love your message at the end, it's so true, we have to live fully just like your grandmother. :)