When I was small, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Both sets of them, actually. We would see my paternal grandparents usually on the weekends, particularly on a Sunday. We would see my maternal grandparents every Saturday. We had various traditions with each of them; with my Papa and Grandma - it would be going over for dinner. I remember waiting patiently for my Grandma to give me an Italian ice, which she always would let me have before dinner. With my Nana and Zaydie, it was Chinese food every Saturday. We went to the same restaurant from the time I was 3, until I was 19.
Holidays and birthdays were some of the best times for me; some holidays were split up between the grandparents - some were held at our house. Our house used to be a gathering point; if my Mom threw a birthday party for her sister - my whole family would be there. Growing up, I didn't realize that all my aunts and uncles weren't brothers and sisters! Everyone on both sides of the family genuinely got along well, and I loved the days when I knew everyone was coming over.
I spent alot of nights sleeping over my Nana and Zaydie's house. Not for any reason, other than maybe my parents were going out for the night, or they just wanted to keep me over. At one point, I stayed over quite a bit; my younger sister was born with some serious medical conditions that required my parents to be at the hospital more than at home for the first few months of her life. I don't really remember not being at home that much - and it's quite possible that they stayed at my house at times too. But I really enjoyed the times I slept over.
Zaydie was a very quiet and gentle man. He never raised his voice, and he always had a twinkle in his eye. I loved sitting with him in his chair, while we watched "The Lawrence Welk" show before I went to bed. He would doze off, and I'd wake him up - to which he always replied with a smile, "I wasn't sleeping...just resting my eyes". Every morning that I woke up there, he'd say to me "what would you like for breakfast?" I'd say "make your eggs, make your eggs!". My Zaydie made the best sunnyside up eggs I've ever tasted. To this day, when I turn on the gas pilot on the stove and melt butter - I'm back in my Nana and Zaydie's kitchen, waiting at the table for my breakfast.
My Zaydie died when I was 10; he was only 64. He died relatively quickly considering he was ravaged with cancer - but not quite quickly enough in retrospect. I remember him being in the hospital, wanting to see my sister and I terribly; but then sending us out of the room because he didn't want us to see him in the condition he was in. I remember the day we got the call that he had passed. And although I knew it was coming, I was devastated just the same.
When my grandfather died, not only was it my first experience losing a family member - it was my first experience losing a best friend. And I never have - nor ever will - eat sunnyside up eggs again.