We didn't even have any Italian roots, but my grandma wanted to be called
"nona." I had never called someone grandma or "nona" and I literally couldn't do
it. I really tried to though and even prepared in my room before breakfast.
In the morning, I would say the word in a whisper several times, with
"Hola nona" I said with a causal wave and smile.
"Nona me puedes pasar la sal" I said pointing to an invisble salt shaker.
(Grandma, could you pass the salt?")
"La nona se fue de compras" I said acting as if I were talking to my cousin.
(Gradma went out shopping)
"Nona What's upppp?" I said even though there wasn't a scenario where I would
greet her like this. I just wanted to get the casual feel to the word.
It took at least two months before I could finally call her "nona" and another month to
comfortably call her that. In the meantime, I just made eye contact with her when I wanted
to get her attention or walked in her general direction and started talking. Once I scared her
because I starting talking to her back and she didn't know I was there. The horrible part during
this time was that she realized I was having a hard time saying her name. She would say
"hasta manana munequita" (Good Night baby doll) and I would just say good night with
a smile and one day her smile broke and I just couldn't say anything else.