Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Che fai? Niente!

It never occurred to me that it was odd that my grandparents slept in separate beds for the entire 26 years I knew them. I did think it was strange that my grandfather slept in a twin size bed smaller than my own: though he was not tall, he was round and heavy, and could not have possibly been able to turn to his right or left side with much ease. But that was the extent of my thought on the matter. To me their marriage was permanent and safe and tidy, unlike that of my parents, which was the exact opposite of each of those things. I also never thought it was strange that my grandfather who was born in Italy and was proud of being Italian, never spoke the language, except for a few phrases here and there, mostly when he was cooking. If I had any thoughts about either of my grandparents, it was just the obvious facts: they both were generous and kind, were meticulous about schedules and routines, wore glasses, had bad breath, and slept flat on their backs, each in their own twin bed, snoring with their mouths open.

My grandfather, who was a law professor as well as the head of his own firm, was also a giggler who could make himself laugh until he had tears talking about silly things like hineys, poops and babies with the hiccups. He loved to sing and even bought a microphone that he'd bust out at parties so people could hear him over the accordian player. He also had a quick temper and could be utterly exasperated at the smallest things, like messes and running. At these times my grandmother would swoop in and usher us into another room before "something horrible" really happened, telling us that Grandpa was tired.

Gampi did teach us one word in Italian, that we would say when he asked us, “Che fai?” (What are you doing?)

“Niente”, (Nothing!) we would yell, and he would laugh until he had to sit down.

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