Tuesday, November 12, 2013
EVERYONE NEEDS A “Nona” in their life. Nona means grandmother in some Croatian and Italian dialects. We have a Nona in our lives, and we really love her. Nona is the mother of a good friend of mine, and she comes to Haliburton several times a year. When the message comes that Nona is on her way, there are lots of cheers, smiles and hugs to celebrate. We all start to anticipate. Nona has a heart as big as the entire world. She lets all of us rest into it. She is kind, generous, humble and a hard worker. She loves to look after people. And she is good at it.
She loves her family, and her family’s friends, and she settles into Haliburton and takes care of all who are around her. She is happiest when she is in the kitchen making delicious food for everyone; she is a good cook, and she pours her love into it.
We’ve all learned a lot about Croatian food and culture over the years. I have no doubt that some day my friends and I will have a Croatian holiday because of her stories and food we have eaten; we are hooked.
I have so much respect and admiration for Nona. She has not had an easy life. As a teenager she escaped from communist Croatia and lived in a refugee camp for four years. She met her husband at the camp and they eventually emigrated to Canada. They had no money, spoke no English, and arrived in Toronto alone and not knowing anyone, when she was seven months’ pregnant. Upon their arrival they were approached by a young priest at Union Station, who helped them. He went to his parish priest, who helped them get some food and find a place to stay for the night, and then begin their Canadian lives. Nona and her husband went on to have three lovely children and six wonderful grandchildren.
My friends and I often talk about how because our parents/siblings don’t live in Haliburton we have to look after each other and be each other’s family on a day-to-day basis. And so we’ve helped each other through births, deaths, illness, injury, graduations, concerts, broken hearts and in the day-to-day situations where we need support. We are good at looking after each other and being each other’s family.
But I have to say that when Nona visits, or my mom sends up the Christmas cake for the gang, or my other friend’s parents visit, we love it. We love their company, their wisdom, their good food, their stories, their humour and the time we all get to spend with them. We love to be held and cared for in their vast hearts. We love to be looked after in a way that only a Nona can. The world needs more Nonas.