April 29, 2013

Italian Comfort Food and My Grandma

Meatballs, sauce, bread and shaved Parmesan.

Living so far away from family means that you sometimes miss the big stuff - birthdays, new babies, graduations, weddings and funerals. And sometimes you know that you just have to be there.

I spent a good amount of time with my grandma when I was visiting my family in February. She got sick shortly after I left, and after several weeks in and out of the hospital, she passed away on April 15 at the age of 96.
It was a huge shock.
As poorly as she was, I think we all expected her to bounce back, don her blue apron and head back into her kitchen. We all thought we would have more time to spend with her.

At first I debated going to her funeral. A last minute ticket meant that the cost was astronomical and due to a work commitment that I couldn't get out of, it would take me about as long to travel to Spokane as I would actually be able to spend in Spokane.
I went anyway. I knew I would regret it if I didn't.

It was a whirlwind weekend full of tears and laughter and hugs and family I haven't seen in years. And on the day of my departure, my dad got up extra early and started cooking in her honor. He spent several hours that morning making meatballs and marinara sauce, using her recipes. After indulging in a few for breakfast, dipped in sauce and enjoyed with little shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano, I left for the airport with a drippy, well wrapped sandwich stuffed full of garlic and parsley studded meatballs and smothered in sauce.
I sat in the airport in Minneapolis on one of my layovers and thought of her, all I had learned from her and all that she meant to our family, while I savored every single bite.

I know it would have made her smile.


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