For over four years I worked at a newspaper in Tooele County, a rural desert county in Utah. I had a coworker once say the county is a collection of almosts—it could be almost a fantastic hiking... [+]
In 2020, everything changed. Things changed and people changed.
My name is Loredana Lisa, and this is a true story. When my mom gave birth to me, she and my dad had me as their first-born child. Both of them gave me that name, and all my family remembers the day I was born. One more thing – I was born with Down syndrome and a thyroid.
I was so cute, and adorable as well. Everyone in my family used to take care of me. They all loved me; I was the only child.
I would like to say this: I love my granny. The only person she wanted to be her granddaughter was me. She told me herself that I'm her baby.
I have lots of nicknames for my grandma: Grandma, Granny, Grandma-ma, Grandmom, Gram. She's small. She wears a perfume; I like the way she smells. She dyes her hair black but her hair is red. She wears glasses. She wears pants with pajamas and clothes. She doesn't shuffle her feet. She takes a shower every day. She washes her hair first, then she combs it. She blow-dries it. She does wear lipstick. She never wears makeup. She never polishes her nails. She snores when she sleeps at night. She always keeps cough drops in the house or her purse. She always smiles. She's always happy. Her laughter was contagious.
Me and my granny were at a picnic when I learned how to walk for the first time. It was gorgeous out, back in 1983. My granny showed me how to walk. She took a hula hoop and said, "try to walk but use the hula hoop." I was holding the hula hoop like a steering wheel. She was in front of me – we were holding it together. She said, "you walk, and I'll follow you."
My granny taught me to sew. She made a lot of dresses. The first dress she ever made for me was a Holy Communion dress. It was all white, with a white tiara with white beads on it that I wore on my head. In high school, she made me this light blue dress. It matched with the purse. I wore that to my first prom. The other dress that she made was a green one – she knows green was my favorite color. It was long, with no sleeves and she put something in the middle so my chest wouldn't show. I wore that to my cousins wedding. My granny goes downstairs to sew. She has two rooms downstairs – a room that's near the yard where she does her laundry and the other room is the garage, she does all her sewing there. I said, "I can watch you sew all day." She said, "watch me, and you can do it too." She had to bend down, she wears glasses when she needs to sew. The sewing machine sounded like a motorcycle. She had a radio that played; she always listened to Italian music. The first thing she does is start singing in Italian. I would sing with her; she and I would sing together.
My grandma made the best food ever – lasagna, ravioli with ricotta cheese. She makes the food everybody likes. She made fried dough and strawberry shortcake, and cheesecake, which is my favorite. I had it for my 30th birthday. She would only make it for me because she knows I like it. Plain – nothing on it. New York style famous cheesecake. Every year when it comes to my birthday, she was the first one to make a cheesecake for me.
Anytime she would do laundry I would help her. She would wash the clothes, and I would take them into the yard and hang them on the line to get it dry. I would put the pillowcases to my nose to smell it. It would smell like fabric softener – like Febreze. I would hang the clothes with wooden clothes pegs, but they break easily. My granny put the broken ones in her apron pocket. She takes them out when she takes her apron off and put them in the trash. Whenever the clothes were all dried, I would take them down and fold them and put in basket, neatly. She would say, "take them all the way up to my room and then I'll fix it." She would put some of them in the drawer, some in the closet and some of them that she doesn't need. The sheets were hard to fold – I have a hard time with it, and my granny would help me fold it, one side, shake a little bit then, the other side. She would do the rest.
She would go to 8:00AM mass on every Sunday. She would take me with her. She said the prayers in Italian. I would go with her to the casinos – Showboat, Borgata and Harrah's. She plays the slots. She would give me advice "Stay home and stay safe, and take care of grandpa, don't go anywhere." She always gave me a kiss when I needed a kiss from her.
It was last year when I lost her. My grandmother was old and her heart gave out. She was only 79. I went to see my grandmom. It scared me because I didn't know she was going to end up in the hospital. When I heard her voice, it broke my heart. I grabbed her fingers and her hand – she could hear me, but she couldn't talk. I was saying, "Grandmom, everything's going to be ok with you. I'm still your granddaughter, I love you so much. You taught me everything, I want you to know I'm here with you holding your hand. My great-grandmother needs you right now. You're going to be with Nona." I remember her grabbing my fingers; she was holding my hands like when I was a baby. She looked at my face and I said, "Grandmom, I love you a lot." Now everything has changed now that she's not here.
It made me angry when she left and didn't say goodbye. I would have protected her, but I wasn't there to protect her. I started to write things down, and it didn't help. I was at the beach with my mom in Wildwood, and she told me let it go and move on. My mom was telling me, "I know it's hard for you, but you've got to not think about it. Don't think about it." And that's what I did. My idea to get rid of the pain was to listen to music, because I found out last year that she passed in 2019, the music did help to get rid of the pain. I did go through it and so did everybody else.
I can cook for other people. The last time I cooked was when I did it by myself, roast pork with the juice inside. I have memories of my grandma and special things I remember about my grandma. I found something that I was very interested in making, a portrait with my grandparents in it. I finally moved on and I did go through it. I let everything go. I'm over the pain now.