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Rest in Peace Little Gram

My Last Conversation with Little Gram

Little Gram died today. A few days ago she fell and broke her hip. We all agreed that surgery was out of the question so she left the hospital and went to my mother's home to die. Today, while sleeping and resting comfortably, she simply stopped breathing. She was surrounded by her daughters and my mother and some of her other grand children. In what may be the first of a many posts about a remarkable woman I'd like to share a story about my last conversation with Little Gram.

The last time I spent any real time with Little Gram was two weeks ago. My boys and I went to my mother's home for lunch. As soon as we arrived I made my way out to the deck to sit with Little Gram and Big Gram.

Whenever I saw Little she'd always ask about Lisa and my family. Then she'd ask about my job and what I did for a living. I told her about my recent trips to India and Seattle and she asked about how I liked to travel.

After talking about the ups and downs of business travel I told Little about some recent family tree research I uncovered. I told her that I discovered that at one time she and her family lived in New York City. She immediately recalled that her older brother Felix was living with a friend named Lawrence Maletta and his wealthy family. This family lived in Brooklyn and "their house was beautiful." Even more impressive was the fact that this house had indoor bathrooms. Little Gram told us that this was the first time she ever saw a toilet in a home. The year was 1909 and Little Gram was 7.

I asked what led to her arrival to the States. Little told us about her father, Francesco (Frank). I learned her father was a tree surgeon in Sicily and that he worked for a Prince. Frank took care of all the trees in the olive grove. The prince became ill and died and Little's father took care of a lot of the estate chores for the Princess including cooking. She said that many of the recipes handed down over the years were learned during the time her father worked for the princess. Now, the princess was a gambler and one day she lost the estate and Little's father was out of a job. It was soon after this that Little and her father made their way to the United States to meet up with her older brothers Felix and Andrew.

It was at this time that we went into the kitchen to have lunch. On the menu that lovely Sunday was one of my all time favorite Little Gram meals - potatoes and eggs. When I was in college I had a few semesters when I would visit Little Gram in between classes. She'd always make me potatoes and eggs. It's a simple dish - potatoes and eggs fried together with olive oil. Just typing about it is making my mouth water. I'm so glad that my last meal with Little was this dish.

When it was time to go I noticed that Little asked my mother to fetch her purse. Little pulled out some money and handed Michael and Joey $5 each. "Go and buy yourselves a funny book." With that I thanked her and gave her a big hug and told her I loved her. She kissed me and said I love you too.

That was my last conversation with Little Gram.

1967 - Celebrating birthdays 65 and 2.

1989 - Celebrating birthdays 87 and 24.

2005 - Celebrating birthdays 103 and 40 and Joey's birth.

Paul Altobelli

Home Office, 1219 Martin Ave, Cherry Hill, NJ, 08002, United States