Nonna

We saw her with her bicycle our first day at the beach. It was really too cold to swim, but it was our Spring Break, our first vacation with friends, no parents, and we resolved that we would enjoy it to the fullest. We jumped out of the water as quickly as we jumped in. She laughed merrily, muttered something with a deep smile, and rode away.

The next day, she waved. We waved back. The third day, she brought almond cookies, crisp and sweet. We gestured to our blankets and she sat with us. We talked, she in Italian, I suppose, wildly gesturing and we understood each other despite the language barrier.

We did not see her the next day, but she returned to the beach on our last day, bearing more almond cookies and strong, fragrant coffee. We were back to wearing jeans and sweatshirts, too chilly for swimsuits and ready to admit it. She waved her arms at us and laughed, pointing to herself and her feet. It took us a bit, but we understood, finally. We stripped our shoes off, myself, my friends, and the old lady and walked hand in hand into the ocean, the cold water tickling our feet.