Addio, per Ora, Grandmother

We never know how long we have with someone we love, but when your grandmother lives to 94, you know to hold precious every moment together, every phone call. You know each one is a blessing, because it feels like a gift.

Being Italian-American, our family had not known of the custom of afternoon tea, but, being Italian-American, we took to it like ducks to water. After all, it fits perfectly with our love of food, family and long conversation. Having discovered afternoon tea in Atlanta, I was the ringleader, reserving teatimes for the ladies in the family whenever we were together again. Grandpa called it a “hen party,” which he politely declined to attend. Grandma was shocked at the lavish parade of courses and always brought some of her treats home to Grandpa.

Our tea adventures eventually encompassed visits to different tearooms in Georgia, Maryland and New Jersey. Over time, Grandma found it harder to hear, or remember what had just been said, but some things never lessened. Like her gladness to see her family, her frankness, her clever wit, her love and her outstanding advice. She is the one who got me to stop wiffle-waffling about starting Destination Tea, because she convinced me that anything I focused on would grow. That conversation happened at the afternoon tea pictured below.

One beautiful way of memorializing a loved one who has passed is to continue setting a place for them at the tea table. Even as I prepare to fly up for Grandma’s funeral, I know that I will not ever need to set a place for her. She sits with me, in my heart.

I give thanks, doubly. Firstly, for having had so much time with her. As an adult, I could learn about the person who is my grandmother. Let me tell you, all family bias aside, she was a woman I truly liked. Funny, sharp-witted, gracious, opinionated, but willing to listen. My grandmother’s guidance all the way through my newlywed and young motherhood years was invaluable. Once after I had shared her wisdom with a girlfriend, my friend asked, “Can I call your Grandma for advice? I need your Grandma, too.”

And secondly, but just as whole-heartedly, I give thanks for my mother. She is the one who brought Grandma to all our teas. Who helped her pack and travel to Atlanta and Maryland for family reunions. Who, as the years wore on, would remind us to speak up, and made sure we were all drawing Grandma into the conversation. Who helped Grandma get ready, consulting on her tea outfit. Who talked her into joining us one more time this past Christmas, when Grandma had forgotten about our teatime, and wasn’t feeling her best. My mother’s love for her mother is in every beautiful teatime we shared together. I thank her and I wish this for anyone reading: that you know the treasure that is Family and that you celebrate your times together, whether over afternoon tea or in your own way.

Fare well Grandmother, I love you always.

DestinationTea
Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

15 Comments

    1. A beautiful tribute to a very classy lady. Grandma Vi was my next door neighbor for over 30 years. I cherished the talks we would have over a cup of tea. Vi RIP you are with Grandpa Tom with much sadness Karen & Michael Dombeck

      1. Karen, I waved to you as the funeral procession drove by her Mineola home. It pulled at my heart to see you outside, after so many years that you had been next-door neighbors. Thank you for sharing these beautiful sentiments.

  1. Angela what a wonderful tribute to your grandmother! My deepest sympathies and prayers to your entire family. She will always be in your heart and at your tea table.

  2. As much as she is in your heart, it is for sure that you were always in her heart Angela. This is such a beautiful tribute to her. She loved you so much. ❤️.

    1. Thank you, Aunt Ro. Like you, she was a member of my personal Council of Wise Women. Folding laundry this week without her on the phone was starkly quiet. Missing her, but happy for her too.

  3. There are no words adequate enough to express the gratitude I have for the love of this Grandmother expressed here. From the Grandmother, her tree bore the fruit that is her daughter Cecelia, and then Cecelia, hers bore the fruit that is the Destination Tea lady. The core of that tree is love of others, love of family. All that has extended through her branches. That love now extends thru sharing with others, those places where people can get together; to spend more time enjoying their love of tea with family and friends.

  4. Dear precious Angela, thank God for your heart and thank you for sharing these sweet treasured memories and thoughts of your Grandmother and Mother. Such an inspiration to us all. All three of you with a twinkle in your eye, a contagious smile and a way of making others feel loved. I heard this song by The Afters this week, called “Well Done” and thought of your Grandma… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X29hPMgKUyM.
    You are a beautiful person and wonderful, loving Mom yourself. We love you and your family and And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.

  5. Barbara, thank you for sharing this beautiful song. I agree, the message is perfect, “You have run the race, and now you’re home.” I shared it with my parents. Yes, the family twinkle in the eye. Some might say a sign of mischief. One thing I’ll miss, is Grandma’s call the day after my birthday, or the kids’ birthdays, to say, “Guess what today is? It’s not your birthday anymore!” She knew how to run the race with a smile on her face.

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