There's no doubt that time flies, but everyday since you've passed has been a blur of memories.
When I was a baby, you held me and walked me through your house while my parents worked. You pointed to everything you could and told me the words that went with each object. You helped give me the ability to express myself at a very early age, and I know I wouldn't be as eloquent or as well-spoken as I am today if it weren't for you.
You wrote stories with me, and our imaginations were our only limitation. Even when I couldn't write myself, you let me talk and tell you how the story went. You hung on every word, and made sure to write each one exactly as I had said it.
We colored countless pictures, and drew hundreds of circles, because you were always amazed by how perfect mine always came out. We painted dogs and flowers while we ate pasta smothered in Country Crock butter and garlic. Paired with buttered bread, of course.
We taught Sadie, the cutest ugly dog you've ever seen as you'd always say, to do more tricks than you ever thought she'd be capable of (probably because she was extremely food motivated, but hey we'll give it to her anyway.)
You fostered my love of music from the very start. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't appreciate it nearly as much as I do today. You taught me to read music, recognize notes on the piano, and even play a few short tunes. You would astound me with your ability to play polka music, both on the piano and the accordion. If I didn't feel like playing that day, you played for me and let me dance to my little heart's content for hours and hours in your back room. You helped me write my rhythms in my snare drum book when I started percussion and loved to listen to videos of me playing with my high school's percussion ensemble.
You taught me to putt and chip a golf ball, and your prowess always amazed me. I remember watching countless matches with you on T.V. and listening to your amazement with how good Tiger Woods was. I remember you practicing your swing in the living room, despite Grandma's protests because of the risk it posed to her lamps (and we won't mention the chips out of the paint on the ceiling).
You taught me to play Go Fish, but also Euker and Texas Hold Em. You never let me win, so on rare occasions when I did, I knew I was really doing well (but I had the best teacher in the whole world). You also taught me to play pool, and even let me try my hand at darts. When all that was done, Yahtzee never let us down either.
You taught me to juggle with golf balls in your room. After I made the switch from golf balls to batons, it became my absolute favorite event, and it always will be.
When I got older, you gave me true Italian dating advice. Why have one boyfriend when you can have a dozen? You said it worked for you, until one found out and let the others know, and then you went from a dozen girlfriends to none. Maybe I'll stick to just one...
You loved watching me twirl, and always supported me, even when we had to miss your birthday every single year because of nationals.
You never failed to ask me how I was. You always asked me about school, what classes I was taking, and made sure I was taking care of myself. You made sure my mom and dad were doing well, and you were never interested in talking about yourself, only others.
I will carry these memories and many more with me forever and always look fondly upon them.
You cared so much about every single person you met. You were smart, funny, and never failed to make me smile. You were such a bright light in a dark world, and although I am glad you are no longer in any pain, I will miss everything about you dearly. I will take every lesson I learned from you with me throughout the rest of my life, and never forget where I came from.
I came from love, music, games of all varieties that make you think, pasta with loads of butter, the thirst for knowledge, compassion for all living beings, and genuine care for others. There are many amazing people in my life that I have learned a lot from, but these things I have learned in many ways from you.
Thank you for absolutely everything.
You will be greatly missed.
Until we meet again...