*Re-reading this post brought tears to my eyes.  I am proud to say that, almost two years later, my Grandpa Ted is still doing well.  He gave us quite a scare that winter I was home, but this year he looked better than I’d seen him in a long time.  My older relatives will always hold such a dear place in my heart.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

So I’ve been home now for over two weeks but haven’t written a word since leaving Korea.  There are many reasons for that.  The first is that I haven’t left Korea for good.  If Steve and I had decided to leave our one year at just that, I would have made some big ceremonious blog post about it.  But we are not quite done in that crazy country just yet.  We are, however, on a two-month hiatus.  One which I didn’t feel comfortable talking about until the most important person (duh, my Grandma B) was fully informed.  Now that that’s happened, I can easily write about the end of one year’s adventures and the beginning of a new endeavor in another post.

Our 53-hour journey home is an entire other blog post in itself and was also far less ceremonious than I’d pictured all year.  And while I could bitch and moan about all the crap a certain airline put us through, something far more important than recalling that whole headache happened today.

It’s no secret how special my grandparents are to me.  And Steve’s grandparents.  And all my older relatives, for that matter.  Since being home, both my grandpa on my dad’s side and my great aunt on my mom’s side were taken to the hospital.  Being that life is strange, they were admitted to the same hospital, same floor, same room number, one building apart.  But one went home and one did not.

As I sat at my aunt’s funeral today, so much hit me.  How delicate life is, how fast, how some pieces stay a little longer, and others are just gone.

My great aunt, or Zia Loretta as we called her (well, Si-Lo-Rate with our accent), was a 93-year-old immigrant from Italy.  She was my Grandpa Al’s sister, one of many relatives that my grandparents helped usher into American life after they moved here and did a pretty darn good job of assimilating themselves.  She was the quiet aunt, who spoke little English and came to every major event in my life from my baptism to my wedding.  Thinking of an event without her just adds to the feeling I’ve had since coming back here that life as I’ve known it is slowly slipping away and changing into something else entirely.

Those older relatives with their stories, their recipes, and their traditions are what made growing up as an Italian-American something to be proud of.  It’s something I want to hold onto for as long as I can.  I want Sunday pasta dinners and espresso at 3:00 in the afternoon.  I don’t want to be the only one using words like capeesh, and ma-peen, and ah-shpet.

This is why I’m beyond grateful that in the same week my Grandpa Ted (my Polish grandpa) was able to go home from the hospital.  And just in time for his 86th birthday.  Tomorrow we’ll celebrate and extend our traditions and our pots of meatballs for yet another year.  We’ll laugh and yuck it up, and I’ll enjoy every minute of it because who really knows how long it will last.

And so life is delicate.  What I’ve known thus far might be changing, but it will always be truly precious.