When we were growing up, I would always go to church with Nonie and my brother on Christmas Eve. As I developed my own personal issues with the Catholic Church, I still held my promise to go to church with her on her birthday/Christmas Eve. We would then go to dinner at my aunt and uncles. Us kids would be SO excited for presents that after dinner and birthday cake, we'd all exclaim, "IS NONIE'S BIRTHDAY OVER YET? WE WANT TO OPEN PRESENTS!" And she'd sip her coffee and tell us to go downstairs before we burst.
Nonie would bite her lip if she had something to say. She wouldn't volunteer her opinion unless you asked for it. Towards the end of her life, she became much more outspoken. I remember going to a small deli in Warrensburg, NY and they messed up her order. Normally, she would have just sat quietly and eaten the wrong food. But this time, she stood up and went to the counter to say that the order was wrong. Listen, my jaw was on the floor. I had NEVER witnessed that from her before then.
Nonie was my best friend and when she died, a part of me went with her. Only recently have I rediscovered that part of me that I thought was gone forever, and that's my wife's doing. I wish beyond everything that my wife was able to meet Nonie, I feel like they'd get along perfectly. They're both very proper women who love to cook. When my wife and I went to Italy for our honeymoon in October, I spent the whole time using what little Italian language skills I had retained from my childhood. Nonie would speak Italian to her brothers and sisters and around Christmas when she was trying to discuss presents and what we all were getting.
I miss my grandmother so much. It's been 10 years since she died and every time I think of her, I hear her say my name and scold me for something. It's a great memory to have, even if I was always in trouble!
If I've only given you a glimmer into the kind of person my grandmother was, be lucky to have read that. She was a wonderful woman, an amazing cook, and she was a true lady.
She is missed. She will always be remembered.
I love you, Nonie. I hope you're having a party up there with Papa and Sinatra!
Enjoy the photo gallery below with more images of the life and times of Carmella Ponzillo.