Who is Nonna?

Nonna means grandmother in Italian. So, Nonna (pronounced Non-nah) is my grandmother.

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I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with her when I lived in Brisbane, Australia. She would always graciously humour my requests to “PLEASE PLAY WITH ME NONNA!”.

Now aged 93 years old, she still lives in her own home. She does her own cleaning (“they wouldn’t do the floors like I do”) and potters about in her garden with her prized roses (some 30+ rose bushes, with a few being half a century old).

Her grace, strength and resilience never cease to amaze me. She moved to Australia from Italy over 63 years ago, “not with one word of English”. She and her husband raised four children in Australia while working on their own farm. He died unexpectedly, 45 years ago now. She continued farm work to ensure all four of her children went through university.

Nonna chooses to see the goodness in people and her wish is for people to be happy and to look after each other. Her best days are when all 23 family members are together in one place (eating!).

Nonna is the only one who calls me ‘Samantha’, as this is my “proper” name. She pronounces it 'Sa-man-ta'.

 

Why ‘Letters to Nonna’?

Over the past two years, I have spoken to many wonderful people who give and receive care. Their stories have made me laugh and made me cry.

I have never been sure of how to best share their words of wisdom and their remarkable stories.

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But, whenever I shared them with Nonna, either on the phone or sitting around her kitchen table in Brisbane, I found my words came more easily.

These Letters to Nonna are the kind of conversations that we would have together around her kitchen table.