My Nanny -- By Joseph J. Mazzella

" . . . I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me." (Phil 2:17b-18 NIV)

There is an old Cherokee expression that goes, "When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." Well, I know one Italian lady who lived up to that Cherokee saying. My grandmother or Nana came into this world in Italy right after the turn of the 20th century. In 1914 when she was only 8 years old her family braved German U-boat attacks to travel to America. There she grew up, married, and lovingly raised four sons. Then she helped to raise me and my brothers as well.

I can still remember coming home after school to my Nanny’s old house. The dinners always smelled so wonderful. She always gave me a big Italian hug before dinner too with a smile on the side and a kiss for dessert. In the summers she would take her cooking skills across the road to work at the local 4-H camp. The campers would always give her and the other cooks a standing ovation at the last meal. I would sometimes sneak into the kitchen at work to grab a roll and a quick hug before going off to play. Nanny would always slip me a quarter to buy a pop as well.

Nanny also had her tougher side. She had a temper. She could yell with the best of them. When people stole the dandelion wine she had sitting in the sun one day she taught us all a few Italian words and phrases that we hadn’t heard. Still, she always led with her heart and shared her love freely with family, friends, and strangers alike. She lived to be over 90 years old but died way too soon. We all cried when she died, but I know that Heaven rejoiced at getting her back. A part of her, though, is still living here in the hearts and minds of those she left behind.

My Nanny had a wonderful life here. She lived. She loved. She laughed. She cooked, cared, and cried. She touched a lot of hearts. She made her grandson smile and she made God smile as well. May we all do the same. May we all live glorious lives of love worth rejoicing.

By: Joseph J. Mazzella