Before I list the things my grandma told me growing up, I want to explain why I’m doing this. She passed away some months ago and I haven’t been back to New York since then. I’ve been to Brooklyn and Long Island, but haven’t had a reason to venture to the City since then. Today, I’m going to see a hockey game with an old friend of mine at Madison Square Garden.
I’m trying to keep it together as I ride the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) and think about her. I plan on taking a walk down to her block and taking in the moment. I’m hoping it gives me some kind of closure.
She taught me a lot in all the time I spent there. The City will always hold a special place in my heart and I can only hope I’m able to continue to go there whenever I can.
With that, here are the things I can remember about what my grandma taught me either about New York or the things that make us New Yorkers.
– New York City (Manhattan) is the real New York. Period.
– Real bagels aren’t flat on the bottom
– Real New Yorkers wear North Face jackets
– Always take advantage of the multitude of grocery stores in your neighborhood. Never settle if some other store has better quality
– Make time for coffee
– Walk everywhere
– Do your own thing and don’t worry about anyone else
– Know when all of the trains leave for that day and which subways are out of order
My grandpa is in rehab after his knee surgery and I can’t call his room directly because he doesn’t like to talk on the phone. I’ve only spoken to him on the phone a few times and the last couple of times wasn’t in English, it was in Italian. I usually settle for calling my grandma and getting updates on how he’s doing. I haven’t had too many deep conversations with him and he hasn’t ever said anything that stuck with me. That doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of memories with him; I have a lot of good times that I’ll carry with me for a long time, especially as a kid and before I went to visit our family in Italy.
Anyway, the last time I called was different. My grandpa isn’t happy about still being in the hospital and he told my grandma, “I never thought the end of my life would be like this. I never thought it would be in a hospital. I always imagined being healthy at home.”
I don’t know why, but this has been running through my head lately. We’ve never been super close, but I spent a lot of time with my grandma and grandpa as a kid in their store. I can’t remember a time they said, “I love you” or anything mushy like that. My dad said they’re just not like that, which is fine, but it’s very different than my other grandparents. My connection with them is one of cultural and familial roots, something that is very important to me.
I’m going to see him on Thursday with my aunt and I’m excited to raise his spirits.