Sunday, November 22, 2009

Michael's grandfather passed away on Friday night. He was 87.

Aside from normal age-related issues, his health was pretty darn good up until a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, things went downhill quickly, and by Thursday night, we knew it wasn't going to be much longer. By Friday afternoon, we knew he likely wouldn't make it through another night.

Michael and I drove to the hospital immediately after work on Friday so that we could be sure to see him one last time. About four hours after we left him, Nono slipped away.

There is never a good time for things like this to happen, but it feels especially sad given that we are so close to the holidays. Some of our best memories of Nono are from Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it would have been nice to have him around for just one more holiday season.

Nono was an incredibly sweet man. Always smiling, often laughing, frequently silly. Every time we saw him, he'd greet us with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and the same for when we parted. His face lit up whenever we entered the room. I knew him as a kind soul; a loving husband, father, and grandfather; a jokester.
I knew all this, despite the fact that we never had a single conversation.

You see, Nono didn't speak English. (Nona doesn't, either.) As natives of Italy, the two of them immigrated to Argentina sometime after they were married. There, they had their two children, one of whom is my mother-in-law. More than 30 years ago, they immigrated again, this time to the United States. I am amazed every time I think about it, but they somehow have managed to live here all of these years knowing no more than a few words of English. Instead, they speak Spanish, with some Italian words thrown in here and there.

Unfortunately, my high school Spanish didn't serve me well enough to really be able to communicate with Nono and Nona. But what is it that people say... something about how communication is 90% nonverbal? Knowing Nono was a true testament to that.

Nono lived a long and full life. The saddest part of his passing is that Nona, his wife of 60 years, has been left behind. I honestly cannot imagine the heartache. As much as it hurts to see Nona in such pain, they are proof that love really can last that long. I remember Nono being thrilled when Michael and I got married. I think he was simply happy for us to experience the same joy and love that he and Nona had shared.

Over the next couple of days, we will gather as a family to support each other. Obviously the loss is hardest on Nono's wife and children. But when the calling hours are over, and the funeral has passed, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. We will remember all that was wonderful about Nono, and his passing will serve as an extra reminder to be thankful for everyone that we still have.

Nono is loved. Nono is missed.



etta November 22, 2009 at 9:02 PM  

So sorry to hear about Michael's grandfather. Losing a loved one is never an easy thing, especially just before the holidays.

Vanessa November 23, 2009 at 3:30 AM  

This is so sad and I'm so sorry. It's so sad that his health deteriorated so quickly, but I'm glad you got to say goodbye. It's beautiful to see that love can last that long, absolutely. Sadly all too rare. People of that generation have/had so much more resolve. They saw so much and had it so much harder and their marriages were sometimes strained because of it but they rarely gave up.
It's amazing that you can know you know someone without having spoken to them, isn't it, but you evoked Nono beautifully for us and it's clear he was a loving and special man. I hope that the next few days are fortifying for the whole family. So sorry again.

Mrs. D November 23, 2009 at 9:30 AM  

So sorry for your loss. How fortunate that you both were able to be with him one last time. I hope your holidays are filled with happy memories of the times you got to spend with him.

Clint & Alicia McLaws November 24, 2009 at 10:09 PM  

Very sorry to hear of your loss. Deaths are always difficult near the holidays, as you said. We lost a dear aunt about a week ago. It sucks, to put it quite plainly. Prayers are with you.

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