surprise visit

My Grandma turned 95 today. Niel and I surprised her with a visit for a few days this past week. With my hair cut, it took her a few extra seconds to figure out who I was and what was going on when she answered the door. But then her big smile said it all. Even though we had to leave before her actual birthday, we had a great visit with Gram. Some highlights:

  • We strolled through the grocery store together and sampled deli meats while we were waiting for our order, just like when I was a kid.
  • Gram, as always, was flabbergasted by the price of tomatoes and pasta. I got the rundown on how cheap they used to be.
  • I love watching Gram make espresso the old-fashioned way---in a little percolator pot on the stovetop. She made Niel very happy with her "black coffee" (as she calls it).
  • Gram dug out some old pictures (like this one). I loved hearing her stories---including a few that I'd never heard before. Like more about what it was like on the boat when she emigrated from Italy at 12 years old. (She remembers that the trip was exactly 28 days long!) I also learned that back in 1958, when my Grandpa worked for the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he won a prize of $353 for making a suggestion that saved the company over $11,000. I asked Gram what he bought with his award money. "An electric train set for your Dad." (Who was only 5 years old at the time.) I love that story.
  • With my Grandma being Italian and Niel being South African, they each have an accent. (Although I don't even notice either anymore.) In the past, they've struggled to understand each other, but this time they had no problems! That made me smile a lot.
  • Gram mentioned a few times that when I was very young, my mom would drop me off at her place each Saturday and we'd go to the movies together. When we were hugging goodbye, Gram asked, "Wanna come over on Saturday and we'll go to the movies?" That made me cry.