Monday, July 14, 2008, 9:55 PM // 3 comments

Rest in Peace Little Gram

My Last Conversation with Little Gram

Little Gram died today. A few days ago she fell and broke her hip. We all agreed that surgery was out of the question so she left the hospital and went to my mother's home to die. Today, while sleeping and resting comfortably, she simply stopped breathing. She was surrounded by her daughters and my mother and some of her other grand children. In what may be the first of a many posts about a remarkable woman I'd like to share a story about my last conversation with Little Gram.

The last time I spent any real time with Little Gram was two weeks ago. My boys and I went to my mother's home for lunch. As soon as we arrived I made my way out to the deck to sit with Little Gram and Big Gram.

Whenever I saw Little she'd always ask about Lisa and my family. Then she'd ask about my job and what I did for a living. I told her about my recent trips to India and Seattle and she asked about how I liked to travel.

After talking about the ups and downs of business travel I told Little about some recent family tree research I uncovered. I told her that I discovered that at one time she and her family lived in New York City. She immediately recalled that her older brother Felix was living with a friend named Lawrence Maletta and his wealthy family. This family lived in Brooklyn and "their house was beautiful." Even more impressive was the fact that this house had indoor bathrooms. Little Gram told us that this was the first time she ever saw a toilet in a home. The year was 1909 and Little Gram was 7.

I asked what led to her arrival to the States. Little told us about her father, Francesco (Frank). I learned her father was a tree surgeon in Sicily and that he worked for a Prince. Frank took care of all the trees in the olive grove. The prince became ill and died and Little's father took care of a lot of the estate chores for the Princess including cooking. She said that many of the recipes handed down over the years were learned during the time her father worked for the princess. Now, the princess was a gambler and one day she lost the estate and Little's father was out of a job. It was soon after this that Little and her father made their way to the United States to meet up with her older brothers Felix and Andrew.

It was at this time that we went into the kitchen to have lunch. On the menu that lovely Sunday was one of my all time favorite Little Gram meals - potatoes and eggs. When I was in college I had a few semesters when I would visit Little Gram in between classes. She'd always make me potatoes and eggs. It's a simple dish - potatoes and eggs fried together with olive oil. Just typing about it is making my mouth water. I'm so glad that my last meal with Little was this dish.

When it was time to go I noticed that Little asked my mother to fetch her purse. Little pulled out some money and handed Michael and Joey $5 each. "Go and buy yourselves a funny book." With that I thanked her and gave her a big hug and told her I loved her. She kissed me and said I love you too.

That was my last conversation with Little Gram.

1967 - Celebrating birthdays 65 and 2.

1989 - Celebrating birthdays 87 and 24.

2005 - Celebrating birthdays 103 and 40 and Joey's birth.



Anonymous leslie pollander said...

i will miss you little gram.little gram was my great grandmom and great she was!i was not physically with her when she passed but i was emotionaly,and i m sure she no s that.last i spoke to little gram was before she went to the was a typical short but sweet talk.she would ask how i was and my dad i told her i loved her and to be good.i regret not speaking to her more often but she was always in my heart and i think she new that.things i like to remember about my little gram are as follows some might relate to these:
letting me& my sis stay up late to watch love boat and fantasy island
chicklets,twix ceral
meatballs,locattell cheese,
italian eggroll and fresh bread
the scary basement @ her old house and how she used to ask one of the kids to go down there to get canned goods
being in the bathtub with my cuz(u no who u r) and a parakeet flew in
tv guide little gram always gave me when she was done with it.
of course doing the sowing
visiting her @ the cherry hill mall
gram always had a little something for her grandchildren and not just for b day or x mas.
one i d like to tell after little gram moved to sicklerville.i was lucking to have her right next door to day i told gram i punched a hole in my bedroom wall(don t think she asked why or how it was there)i told her i covered it with a pennent so i wouldn t get in trouble.soon after when my parents weren t home,her comes little gram with het tools and patched that hole right up!what a great note,my mom claudia pollander died sept.4 2004.i was able to be with her almost to the end.towards the end my mom was out of it,the meds and the cancer but she was able to talk some.she mentioned little gram very often in her final weeks calling for sad as i was when my mom died and now little gram it s good to no that the 2 people i love the most are no longer in pain and with each other forever.

all my love little gram i ll miss more then you ll ever no
leslie pollander

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Jay Rojas said...

Paul -

Thank you so much for putting this up. As well as all the other information you are sharing about the family. It's funny that after reading Leslie's Comments, all of our stories about her revolve around food. But then again she would not have it any other way.

She was the glue that kept us together and in touch with each other. What amazes us is how we lost her almost exactly a year after we lost our grandfather, her son, Jimmy. This shows us how close she really kept her family. And now, as Leslie put it, they are all together. She's up there feeding and taking care of Aunt Claudia and "Uncle Jimmy" and you know she's loving every minute of it.

She may no longer be with us, but our stories about her, her sauce, her cutlets, potatoes and eggs, fresh bread, chocolate chip cookies, and everything else; will keep her life going for another 105 years.

Thanks again for doing this, I only wish we could have made it in time to see her before she rested.

Jay Rojas
another Great-Grand

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Re said...

How lucky for you to have been able to have this lovely afternoon with Little G. How lucky for us that you shared it.

11:00 PM  

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Paul Altobelli is a veteran Internet, marketing and technology professional with considerable expertise in search engine marketing, web site development, design, implementation and project management. [more]

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