The front bell rings and I know that love is at the door. “Nanni! Nanni!” our girls shout as their feet pound hard-wood floors racing towards the door. The children greet my mother like excited puppies with gleeful hugs and kisses. “Nanni! Nanni!” they proclaim unable to contain their excitement.
The thrill and delight of Nanni’s arrival surpassed that of finding a beautifully wrapped gift under the Christmas tree. For a child’s heart knows no substitute for love.
With the birth of our girls, my mother embarked on a heroic mission of love. She would let them mess up her hair and give her crazy hairstyles. She wore goofy hats, just to see them laugh. She sketched pictures of them. She would faithfully arrive every Easter season, ringing the front bell with three dozen cooked eggs, and sets of different-colored dye. The reaction every Easter from our girls was always one of delight. As if encountering a first-time experience that was just too good to be true, they would proclaim with wide-eyed wonder “Nanni, are we really going to paint Easter eggs?”
Since her third birthday, our eldest daughter would hop on my lap every night after dinner, and looking up at me with sparkling eyes proclaim: “Nanni says I can sit on her lap until I am 15!” For this reason alone she fancied herself the most blessed child in town. Who but a beloved Nanni could make such a promise?
Like God does for us, my mother met our children where they were. When the children headed for the clubhouse out back, in no time at all I would catch mom climbing the wooden steps to join them there. Nothing seemed to delight her more than sharing in their giggles and their games. If the children went on the swings, before you knew it, she would be out there swinging and laughing too. Mom was an artist. If she came over with an art project for our girls, only to find them already involved in something else, she would quickly drop her “plans” and just as quickly pick up an intense interest in theirs. It mattered not what our girls drew, sculpted our painted; Nanni sincerely saw a masterpiece in each creation. Her love for them was simple. And because of that it was pure.
Mom had few material things to give. But she gave heaping helpings of her care, concern and time. Cancer may have taken her earthly life three years ago, but it didn’t take my memories of her. I still miss that front bell ringing, the pounding footsteps and the gleeful shouts of “Nanni, Nanni!” There stands emptiness in our home where once those sounds had been. But the sounds themselves haven’t stopped at all. They’ve kept on ringing in my heart and head. They will continue ringing until the day we are united one day in heaven. Then I will again hear gleeful shouts of “Nanni! Nanni” Then I will see clearly that “love never ends.” My mother’s life testifies to the truth that love is found in the little things. In the end, the love we’ve found in the little things is really all we have.
© Copyright 2006 Catholic Exchange
Mary Anne Moresco writes from Howell, New Jersey.