It's sometimes but not often, where an opportunity presents itself in which you can actually make a dream come true for someone you love. For those that know me even remotely--well you have no doubt heard me do a hauntingly accurate impression of my 82-year-old Italian grandmother. Today is her birthday. This past weekend as a surprise Mother's Day/Birthday gift my cousin and I took her to see the Statue of Liberty for the first time. This woman means the world to me, you will hear me probably tell as many funny stories as frustrating ones about this woman--but I think we give the people we love the hardest time. I see this woman as an extension of myself and as one of the best--but also most difficult woman I have ever known.
Over and over again my cousin and I would hear her story. She came here on the Andrea Doria when she was 18 years old, alone. Her mother sent her here to give her a better life. She came from an agrarian family that at that time was in the midst of war. My grandmother never wanted to come to America, if it wasn't for the family she has created here she probably would be in Italy sipping an espresso with a little Sambucca, pinky out. To be honest-- that sounds damn good.
Well finally my cousin and I rallied and said now-or-never. We knew it was not going to be easy dragging an 82-year-old stubborn Italian woman crippled with negativity, brutal honesty, complaints, and just all the italian swear words through the streets of Manhattan. Oh and not to mention her knee surgery she will never let you forget-- that happened over a decade ago...
Well we knew it wasn't going to be easy but we didn't know that this valiant attempt to make this woman's dream come true would result in a complaint about virtually every aspect of her life not just in that moment--but starting from the womb. I think my frustration with this negativity stems from love. When we love someone with our entire being, their pain is our pain.
Well--weather conditions were not ideal this weekend--to put it lightly. Rain, the whole weekend-- the word of the weekend was pluviophile. As the weekend started off with many wasted attempts on some sort of life lesson about learning to dance in the rain, well yeah, that just message was not getting through. Long story short, I found myself frustrated and had snuck onto the 22nd floor of our hotel through a window because for just one moment I wanted to be alone. As much peace as can be found in the Big Apple I stood there--in the rain 22 floors up. I stood there to recoup my spirit that had been broken down, by probably the only person capable of that--a 4 foot nothing tiny adorable little meatball of an italian woman.
Well at the ripe old age of 82 just as I realized I was wishing with my whole being that she would learn to dance in the rain, It has only just dawned on me that I should have been telling myself the same thing. Though not in the rain, but dance with the plethora of complaints, negativity, and curse words pouring from my grandmother's mouth. It's hard to watch someone you love choose suffering instead of freedom and happiness. When it comes down to it, we cannot literally give someone the gift of happiness. They need to choose it on their own, and we must learn to dance in the rain as well.
Post 22nd floor soaked reflection, I had to laugh. The complaints of the rain did not stop, but my attitude did. The same woman who would tell you that your shoes looked like that of a man, is the same woman who also would give you the last dollar she had. Many a plate at a restaurant sent back, ended with the entire restaurant being our friend and somehow leaving with an entire bag of delicious biscotti.
On the upside we went to a restaurant where my grandmother both loved the waitress and the food-- and it was a Jewish deli, go figure. I can probably count the number of people my grandmother likes on one hand and that woman is now one of them, a miracle in itself. We ate delicious ice cream and my cousin and I watched the beauty of human connection and positivity.
Despite the complaints, it was all worth it to see the look on her face when she saw that statue--Lady Liberty. Maybe it took an old broken down flowered umbrella faced forward like a sword fighting the wind in my left hand and dragging little italian nana in the other-- but nothing will ever parallel the genuine smile that even she could not hide at the sight of that statue, a dream come true.
PS- My cousin and I totally get front row seats to heaven, ha!