Reflections written and shared by Denise Galt Tims
I would love to tell you about my maternal Grandmother Angelina Placente. She was born in Bristol, PA to Italian immigrants who came over from Italy in the early 1900’s. They brought one child and would go on to have 6 more after arriving in America. She was such an amazing women that even though I only had her in my life for 12 years she has left a lasting impression that I will carry on with me the rest of my life. I was born in New Jersey in 1963. I have two sisters and one brother. We fortunately lived only a few minutes from my Grandma.
We called her Grandma. Or Grandma Angie sometimes because my Father’s mother lived next door when I was growing up
She spent a lot of time over our house which I loved. Even more than that I loved going to her house and especially sleeping over. As is custom with most Italian Grandmothers we always were fed very well. She was an excellent cook and always had a huge container of pizzelle cookies for us. They are a type of Italian cookie made with an cooking iron in various flavors. I loved to sit on her lap and eat cookies and sip her coffee. We use to say she liked a little coffee with her cream and sugar.
Because my Grandma had so many siblings there were always lots of people coming in and out of the house. They would sit around the table and tell the best stories. I really her stories, sense of humor, and all the laughter of those times.
In 1970 my grandparents moved to Florida which is pretty common for the older generation who do not want to deal with winter in the north. I was so sad even though we would take the long car rides to Florida and they would come visit. In 1972 my health in New Jersey was poor and the doctor suggested we move to a warmer climate. So off we moved to Florida and I was again back with my Grandmother. She adored her grandchildren and thoroughly enjoyed every minute with us. She taught us how to play so many games. She especially loved to play cards so we did a lot a card playing in the evenings. After all in those days we didn’t have cable TV. I wouldn’t trade those hours of interaction for anything. When we were small, we played card games like Go Fish, War, Slapjack, etc. but as we got older we played Rummy, Gin Rummy, and poker. She had a whole bowl of pennies to bet with.
She also was our savior from our Mom. Having four kids in my family we could get into some mischief. If my Mom was on her way dole out some punishment she would get there ahead of her and warn us to run.
When I was in 6th grade my Grandma had a heart attack. After that her health continued to fail and we found out she had an inoperable brain tumor. These were hard times for us. She would have horrible headaches and lost her ability to speak. I would go over her house everyday as soon as school was over and rub her head or do anything I could. I remember her telling me she never had a doll as a child because they never could afford toys. So that Christmas I bought her a doll. That spring she passed away. I still have that doll and keep it as a remembrance of her, but my favorite remembrance is my daughter Megan Angelina.