Defined

 As part of the Mommy Blogger Collective I’m delighted to be a part of, I’ll be writing a post in response to a single word each month. March’s assignment is to respond to the word “defined.” Here’s what I came up with:

These were my grandma’s hands, Isabella Rosalie Graziano’s hands. That was the name her Italian parents gave her, the name on her Baptism record from 1915. Everyone else called her Lisa Bella, Elizabeth, or Mrs. Marsh, but mostly Betty. To me, she was Grandma.

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Grandma was embarrassed by her hands, because in her 90’s they were riddled with arthritis, and “knotted up,” as she put it, as she rubbed them together, squeezing one, then the other. Still, they made meals when they could, often caressed the face of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and waved to everyone, coupled with her effervescent smile. They were beautiful hands, despite what she thought.

Each curve and twist in her fingers spoke of a lifetime of love: turning pages whispering bedtime stories and pages in her choir books, sewing countless buttons back onto our coats and our over-loved toys back together, volunteering at the local hospital, hanging Christmas ornaments, bathing babies, grand-babies and great-babies, cracking a baseball far into the outfield as a child (she was so good at baseball), picking blackberries, spearmint and parsley in her garden for us, “I grew this for you, special.” These were the hands who made you believe you could do anything by just tilting your chin up to meet her eyes. These were the hands circling us all together the night my father, her son, died, and led a family in a chorus of “Hail Mary’s” during the darkest hour it had ever seen.

They were strong hands. Strong, but tender. These were the hands that defined her. In turn, they defined me.

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Grandma taught me how to appreciate a summer breeze, a patch of shade, crisp fall mornings, how to make killer meatballs, fantastic bread pudding, how to properly apply “rouge” and why attitude is everything. She taught me not just to squeeze lemons to make lemonade when life hands them to you, but to pulverize them with unfailing optimism, unwavering faith, patience, forgiveness, and why to encourage peace all around you. I’m still working on the last five. Understatement.

The day I brought my infant son home, cradled him on my shoulder, exhausted, covered head to toe in poison ivy (don’t ask how I manged to get that), my then three and one year old daughters were going ballistic with sibling envy. I felt like I couldn’t move back one moment or forward into the next. It was at that moment that thought of my grandma, or maybe she thought of me, and suddenly felt a window of serenity in the insanity. It was also at that moment that my oldest daughter asked out of nowhere, “Where is Nana?” Nana to her, Grandma to me, had been gone for 6 months by then. I’m convinced that on that day, in my moment of mental turmoil, Grandma came to check up on me and remind me of one of her favorite sayings: “Men tena ti forte,” which in her parents’ Italian dialect means, “keep yourself strong.”

PicMonkey Collage me and grandma

When I get past impatient after a day that I think my limits can’t be pushed farther, and then those limits are ran right over and erased like a line in the desert sand, I think about her, and it’s all good. She’s part of me, and I’m part of her. What a better way to be defined?


“Defined” is the March writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Gillian of Comes in Colours. A few words from Gillian — Hey, I’m Gillian and I blog at Comes in Colours! I am passionate about motherhood and passionate about photography. I am married to my middle school sweetheart and we are now raising our two boys, Roman and Asher, in northern Colorado. My life is real and far from perfect but my blog is a place where I celebrate motherhood through pictures and words. Connect with Gillian on Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin and pop by her blog to say hello.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///