My grandma passed away in her sleep this morning. She was 92.

I  called  her Grandma, but she was also “Mom” to many and she was “Nonni” to some others. She was also “Lil” and–right around the period this photo was taken–she became “The Lil” or “TL.”

This picture was taken in 2006. I like it because she’s laughing. My grandma liked to laugh. Sometimes, she would laugh and laugh and she couldn’t stop. And the tears. And the breathlessness. And when she laughed like that, she called it “having a fit.” And, by God, having a fit with Grandma was one of my favorite things as a kid. It probably would have been one of your favorite things, too.

She used to sing “The Elephant Carries a Great Big Trunk” to me.

It went like this:

The elephant carries a great big trunk;
He never packs it with clothes;
It has no key and it has no lock,
But he takes it wherever he goes.

Then she would add: boom-boom, and poke me on the nose, which made me laugh. And which would prompt me to get her to do it again.

She always smelled good. And her house always smelled good. Like all the tomatoes and basil in all the gardens everywhere. Like fresh garlic sautéed in olive oil.

Her hands were always soft and warm when they held yours. And she made the loudest smacking sounds when she kissed you on the cheek no fewer than three times. And she did that with everybody. Not just her grandchildren.

She told good stories, and it was the way she told the stories that made them good.

She is part of me and what and who I am. I’ll take her wherever I go.