“This I believe”

Janine - Plainview, New York
Entered on October 31, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: death, family, love

When was the last time somebody influenced your life? I believe that everyone needs a hero, a person that guides them morally with values throughout life. A role-model is important because they are people that you want to be like in the future. Their lives are your guide to success and how you want to eventually turn out.

My Great-Grandmother was one of those ladies that are just so amazing to be around. She was dedicated to her family and never let anyone know her flaws. She remained strong for those who looked to her during tough times. Nana was that lady who had a smile on her face at all hours of the day, through any kind of problems she was going through. She hid her concerns so that her loved ones would feel optimistic like she was.

Nana was from Naples. For every birthday she had, her family would yell out “Shantiani,” which meant Live till 100. Nana exceeded their wishes.

Nana passed away this week. She lived till 102 years old. Many people say, “She lived a long life and it was just her time.” I don’t like to hear things like that because no matter what age a loved one is, it is still hard to lose them, especially someone like her who was so full of life. This concept was hard for me to grasp because my Great-Grandmother wasn’t only my Nana, but she was the wind beneath my wings. I want to grow old just like her and just be a happy person. What was even harder for me during this time was seeing my other family members who I admire feel hopeless and down. It is hard to see someone you go to with your problems actually look out of it. My father’s family is very strong with their emotions, unlike me, but when I saw my aunt crying for her mother, it hurt me so much.

Throughout my life I looked to my Nana for answers. She would joke around saying it was the pasta fasul and hard work in the kitchen that kept her alive. I believe that it was her good heart. She was such a goodhearted, giving, family oriented person. Just like cousin Artie said at the funeral, “She loved to bring all of us together.” She was definitely smiling down on us that day because what she loved more than anything was setting up family gatherings and cooking some good Italian food. Many people say that a smile is contagious. With her, it really was. No matter what kind of mood I was in, she brought a big smile to my face. I never really saw my Nana be sad or frown, though I have seen her get mad one time in my life. This was because I didn’t finish my third plate of macaroni.

One story Nana told us stayed in my mind for years. Her father took her back to Naples when she was sixteen years old to visit family. When she got back home, her father told her to kiss the ground, because he wanted to make her realize how lucky and fortunate they were to live in America. This story made me such a positive person. It made me appreciate things that I see being taken for granted every day of my life.

The Stars in the sky are like the twinkle in her eyes and the shine on her face every time she saw her family. Whenever I want her, all I have to do is dream and she will be there. I know I can see her in my dreams, speak to her in my prayers, and be with her once again in heaven.

For all the times she stood by my side and for all the joy she brought to my life, I am thankful to have Nana apart of me. Though she is gone with the angels in Heaven, I know she will always have a place in my heart and will remain someone truly special always. Memories live forever. This is what a hero is. Without her moral guidance, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I thank God each and every day for Nana.