Permit me to set the stage for the story of Nikki and Nana. Nikki and I had been dating steadily for a short but intense period of time. Within a week of meeting we knew every morning was the beginning of another special day. Sunday, October 16, 1983 was to be one of those days.
I met Nikki on October 4, 1983 and I’m sure within 48 hours I spoke to her about my grandmother, Giorgina. Being born Italian aided Nikki in understanding my relationship with Nana. It was atypical. I loved both my grandparents and would spend untold days with them throughout my childhood and late teens. My parents raised me to value the elders on both sides of the family and I hold those values today.
Like every day off, Nik and I met for breakfast and planned our day. I suggested a ride to Gram’s so the two of them could meet. She agreed and by early afternoon I was knocking on her door unannounced. The aroma in the entrance way left no doubt it was Sunday. The smell of Nana’s spaghetti sauce and pizza was renown in the neighborhood. The back entry to the house puts you directly into the kitchen, and sure enough there was Nana sitting at the kitchen table staring out a window. I walked in first, Nikki following close behind. Gram rose quickly with a smile, then affixed her eyes on Nikki. Nik is five feet nine inches in height and presented quite a sight to the four foot ten inch rotund matriarch. “Ahlo,” smiling at Nikki. “Hello, Nana, my name is Nicholena.” After a kiss on the cheek from Nik, Nana asks, “Nicholena, huh, you Italiano?” “Yes, Nana, Siciliano.” “That’sa okay,” she confirmed.
The coffee was poured and with biscotti we talked for twenty or thirty minutes. Nikki excused herself to the bathroom giving Nana the chance she wanted. “Carlootch, she’sa so big,” extending her arms above her head. “Oh, yeah, gram, she is tall.” She put her arm around my waist and whispered, “That’sa nicea girl.” Releasing me, and indicating by holding her hands about eighteen inches apart at her waist, she opined, “She hasa sucha bigga eyes and has a nicea ass for to passa the child.” Quickly raising her hands to breast level, she spread her fingers as if she was cradling a beef steak tomato, and continued, “Nicea, here, too, to make lots a milka.”
With that, I knew instinctively, Nikki and me were destined for one another.
By Carlo Orlando©