Friday, October 17, 2008

Meatballs from Heaven

I'm finally getting around to telling you about the rest of our family weekend to honor my grandmother. Forgive me, but this thinking and working around the house in 15 minute increments takes some getting used to again! As I told a friend, lately my hands have been either full of Li'l Empress, dishes, or laundry.

Saturday after the party, we headed across town to my Aunt G & Uncle C's house for the night. When we arrived, they presented us with this adorable rocker that Aunt G had made for Li'l Empress's room. She LOVES it, and every morning since we've been home, she wakes for hugs and kisses with Mommy, then sits in her chair and rocks herself a few minutes. Soooooo cute :)

Sunday morning we got to visit a church in town that is part of my brother's fellowship of churches. He was the guest speaker that morning, and I hear tell that he did a great job. I spent most of the service in the nursery hand feeding Gerber puffs to Li'l Empress and her cutie pie cousin, Teagan. My folks joined us for the service and headed off to visit the Norwegians from there, so it was good-byes to Grandma and Big Boppa after church. When we got back to my aunt and uncle's, we were pleasantly surprised to see that my Grandma was joining us for the looooooong-anticipated meal of pasta and meatballs. This time, Uncle C actually gave away some of his secrets to his WORLD CLASS AMAZINGEST MEATBALLS EVER. Dr. D hasn't stopped nagging to know when I'm gonna try my hand at the recipe. Part of me doesn't ever want to try and duplicate them. Part of me wants to keep that particular delicacy sacred and special. After all, if I can make Uncle C's meatballs, then any old doofus can make them and where's the LIFETIME of mystery in that?!

Well-stuffed and happily satisfied by the amazing lunch, we spent the afternoon relaxing with my family. Li'l Empress was so wiped out by the activities that she took a three hour nap. Missed most of her great-grandmother's visit, but we couldn't keep her awake any longer and NONE of us wanted to wake a sleeping Empress - it's not pretty, I tell ya. After a while, my Aunt G and I drove Grandma back to her apartment, with a detour to Tripoli's Bakery. NO visit to my mom's hometown (and my birthplace incidentally) is complete until we have Tripoli's cannolis. Traditional cannolis have a creamy, luscious ricotta cheese filling but I also picked up some chocolate and vanilla pudding ones for the kids. They aren't sentimentally attached to their cannolis like I am, so I saved the real thing for the grown-ups more discerning palates. They did not disappoint. Mmmmm, one bite and I was happier than anyone ever should be when eating. Really, I think I've taken the "food is love" mentality of my Italian heritage and gone overboard. I wouldn't even talk to anyone while I was eating it. In slow, teeny, tiny, delicious little bites. While we were pulling out of the parking lot, I snapped this pic - their sign hasn't changed in years - it was just as I remembered it from being a kid visiting "home."

At my grandmother's apartment, I wandered around, looking at all the family pictures and the familiar pieces that were in my grandparents' home and later their town house when I was growing up. I got pretty choked up a couple times, looking at pics of my grandfather and other family members and events. But when I walked into her bedroom, I really lost it. Her bedroom suite of furniture took me back like nothing else that whole weekend. I remember sitting on their bed talking with my Grandpa. I remembered sitting at Grandma's little vanity, brushing my hair and pretending to be a fine lady with all the perfume bottles and mirrors and fancy brushes. She has these two prints of beautiful ballerinas over her bed that she has always had in her bedrooms and just the sight of them made me tear up all over again.

I realized in that moment how BLESSED I am to be part of this family, this group of people who are so full of love and rich with stories. At the risk of sounding really dramatic, while I was standing in that bedroom I felt such a warmth of connection to who I am and who I came from. None of us are perfect, but we are family and I am so fortunate and privileged to be part of them. At the party the day before, someone commented to my grandmother (when all the great grandkids were swarming around and family was EVERYWHERE!) "Look what you and Sam started, Rose!" Well, it is my honor to carry on the story that they all started. I can only pray that I carry on with the strength, courage, and grace that my grandparents and my parents have displayed as they walked ahead of me.

"MMMMMMM, Uncle C's meatballs are AWESOME!!!!"

Monday morning was all about packing and hitting the road. It is always hard for me to say good-bye to this side of the family. We live so far apart and the time we get together is so precious. The Boss and I commented several times on the way home that Aunt G and Uncle C have been such an amazing example to us of enduring love and sweet, generous hospitality over the years that we've been married. We always feel so cherished and well-taken care of when we've been there. I hope that our home is as warm and loving and open to guests as their home always feels to us.

Here's Aunt G and Uncle C, with The Gang

Aunt G is so sweet - she reminds me of my grandpa.
She gets all emotional and teary-eyed whenever she has to say good-bye to her loved ones.

There you have it. My gushing re-cap of a wonderful family weekend. If you hung in there to the very end, without even knowing any of these folks, big kudos to you. I mostly capture these events for my family and for our memories. I hope you enjoyed peeking in on the amazing family that I love. I can't wait to read it back to Li'l Empress some day and help her know her new family through my eyes.


Doreen said...

What a wonderful family you have. What's even more special is how you appreciate and embrace it! You are blessed.

Doreen in Montreal single mom to Faith-Jiangxi & Mia-Sichuan

p.s. can l'il empress look any more royal?????

Kateri said...

Thanks for sharing them with us, T!
And that girl just gets cuter all the time. I can't wait to meet her SOON...which we need to converse about this week :) We're coming your way, my lady. It's on the calendar!!

Steve and Jen said...

Hmmm...Tripoli's, I think I know that place ;). Sounds like you had a good time up our way.

Salzwedel Family said...

Sounds like it was an amazing trip filled with an amazing family. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time. The Lil' Empress is looking as cute as ever.

Anonymous said...

Hey Girl!
What a great time with your extended family! Right there with ya on those memories and tear jerkers! Hey you're right - great pics of your Mom and the other ladies!

No fair talking about all that yummy food. I guess you'll just have to cook up some of those meatballs now!

Love to all,
AMS :)

Elissa said...

I'm glad Lily has another Chinese-Sicilian "cousin" :) Lily was named after my g-gmother (who was actually Rosalia but you know how they all had nicknames) and when I went home this summer to introduce her to that side of the fam, I was also struck by seeing my Nana's legacy in all of her great- and great-great grandchildren. She probably never thought she'd have a Chinese namesake, but I know she would have loved her to pieces!!

Heidi @ GGIP said...

You must have had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing the pictures. I love the rocker and I would really like a cannoli too!

Brittany Ray said...

Thanks for sharing this with us all. We know how special this weekend was in anticipation, and it sounds like it was truly an incredible time spent with loved ones. The rocking chair and picture of Lil Empress is sooo adorable.

Take care,

Aus said...

Oh yeah we hung in there - and love your family too! What a wonderful bunch - thanks for sharing them with us!

Oh - and isn't Shaggy's HW a collection of triangles?

Hugs to all ya'll -

aus and family