On Where

MomBridgeThat’s my mom in 1964 from her hometown in Tuscany, in between Pisa and Florence. She’s standing on a small bridge that is special to me for a variety of reason. The small village way up the hill is where my grandmother was born and grew up. The bridge crosses a small river where I occasionally played.

The bridge didn’t get much traffic, thus the road was gravel. Greenhouses and a few carnation fields lined each side of the road. A the far of the road was the stone apartment building where my mother and her siblings were raised, and where my grandparents still lived when I last visited.

I remember the stone entrance and stops as I walked to the third-floor apartment, which was small with a stone floor. No – this wasn’t the Tuscan villa of our dreams.

My grandfather was tall, quiet, and stern man who provided for his family by working in a factory. I also recall waiting for him at the end of the street for his return home. My grandmother was the stereotypical short, smiling, pleasant Italian grandmother who was a domestic goddess with her cooking and sewing.

Mom was the fourth of six siblings. The oldest, my uncle, was in a wheelchair, thus live at home his entire life. The next was an uncle that I never met because he died in an accident in his 20s. Four girls followed – two older aunts, my mom, and my youngest aunt.

1964 is a long time ago. Since then, most have died – my grandfather (1964), my uncle (1965), my grandmother (1973), Mom (1987), the oldest sister (2010), and the second oldest sister (2012) – let alone the spouses and my dad (2010), my paternal grandparents, Dad’s two sisters, and their spouses.

So that leaves Mom’s youngest sister, two first cousins that I last saw in 1964, and two first cousins that I have not met.

Well – that’s where I’ve been as I just returned from my first visit to see my relatives since 1964 – visit to focus on my last tie to my Mom – here youngest sister – and yes, my four first cousins and their families.

Obviously, the first encounter involved hugs and tears … and then we ate, drank, and laughed … and that was only day 1.

FamilyGroup

Advertisements

136 thoughts on “On Where

    • Soma!
      I saw the notification that you posted while I was gone, so I’ll be over. The trip was good therapy, including some crazy time. Fitting for this post, I’m in the middle with my aunt.

      Like

  1. Welcome back, Frank. When I saw that you’d posted I had to open you up right away. So glad you were away for such a positive reason.

    Italy. What could be better? Oh, yeah, Italy with family.

    I can’t wait to hear more!

    Like

  2. Frank, this sounds like a trip long overdue. I picked you out immediately and the pose, well just lovely and loving. So many lost along the way to making this trip happen. Poignant, perhaps but reaching out to create longed for and hoped for connections is always thus.

    I am glad you did this, even if it did not fill every hoped for hole, perhaps it begin the process.

    So nice to have you back.

    Like

  3. Well shoot, I got the sniffles again….very touching post Frank……the image just got me… my eyes went immediately to the center of the image and the loving expression of the woman with her arms around ( as it turns out) you!
    Awesome….sniffle

    Like

  4. What a wonderful experience that must have been. My mother reconnected with relatives in Germany several years back and had an incredible time. She’s been back a few times since and says I should go with her. But you know me–the thought of staying in a strange home with people I’ve never met scares the daylight out of me!

    On a side note, I wonder what it’s like to grow up with the views Tuscany allows. So gorgeous. I wonder if it gives one different perspective than a view that just includes other suburban Ohio homes…

    Like

  5. Good to see you back, Frank. Your trip sounds wonderful, and I love the photo of your mom. We met up with some of my family a couple of years ago, after over 40 years. It was a surreal experience, seeing how they’d changed from carefree teenagers, into oldish adults with spouses, loads of children and seemingly dozens of grandchildren. 🙂

    Like

  6. Frank, welcome back – it sounds like a wonderful trip for many reasons! I love that part of Tuscany; I spent a lot of time in Florence, Pisa, Barga, and Lucca back in the day – probably one of the loveliest parts of the world. Glad you got a chance to enjoy it and reconnect with family 🙂

    Like

  7. looking forward to days 2, 3,…

    my grandmother grew up in bari, southeast italy on the water. my grandfather grew up in santomenna, a mountain village halfway between bari and naples. there are about 500 people living in santomenna, and about 50 of them are related to me. my grandfather and his father made their own wine, and when he came to america at age 16 he brought some of the equipment with him, which is still in the basement of my father’s house. the whole basement still smells like red wine even though nothing had been made for about 40 years.

    Like

    • Rich,
      I continue to be amazed how much we have in common. I actually have my grandfather’s wine press in my living room! … and can easily recall the smell of my grandfather’s basement!

      Like

  8. Really touching post Frank. I can feel the mix of emotions coming from it. I’m glad you enjoyed and reconnected. I’m also glad you made it back safe and sound. I am always envious (a little) with people who can connect with relations this way. My family is not close at all. It’s sad but it is what it is. I love reading posts like this and look forward to your next one.

    Like

  9. What a story … and that you have deep Italian roots – so you must have the … passion in your blood too. Fantastic written post about your family and the reunion. Cheers to the “La Familia”

    Like

  10. Wonderful, Frank. Yes, I agree, this is quite poignant. It’s great that you can reconnect with your aunt and cousins you have never met. Whenever, I reunite with family, I feel the passing of time in a huge way. I always have a moment of, “Oh, we shouldn’t wait so long next time.” Then again, it’s so wonderful that you managed to get together.

    Even though it wasn’t the Tuscan villa of your dreams, there is something charming and romantic about the bridge with greenhouses lining the street. It’s sounds so simple and nice Welcome back! Where are you in the picture, if you don’t mind me asking?

    Like

    • Bumble,
      Amazingly the street was very similar – but the street was paved at there seemed to be a cut-through street, but one way. Though vacant, the apartment building still stands. I’m very glad I made that walk by myself. As for the pic, I’m center in front of my aunt. The others are my four cousins and my sister.

      Like

  11. Welcome back, Frank and I’m so glad you went to see your family in Tuscany. So very important to maintain those connections. And, yes, food seems to be high on the list of things to do for Italian families. No wonder you have become a wine connoisseur! It’s in your genes! And I truly mean that in the best way. I look forward to hearing more about you time there.
    Cathy

    Like

    • Cathy,
      Regarding wine, I was given it at an early age … a small dose of wine with much more 7up. 🙂 I must say that two of my cousins are also really into wine – and good wine at that! Meanwhile, I’ll probably have another post about the trip soon. Thanks for the warm greeting.

      Like

  12. So that’s where you were 🙂 Nice trip and idea to meet up with your family in the ‘old country’. I would ask why you left it so long, but I know the answer, we all leave things a little too long, but you made it and that’s the important thing. Good on you!

    Like

  13. You are so wise to have made the trip while your Mum’s sister was still alive to welcome you. I can see how happy your aunt was to see you. 😀
    I look forward to hearing more of the story.
    Do you have a photo of yourself on the bridge? Is it still standing?
    We visited the Pisa-Lucca area a couple of years ago – our friends son and his family lived on a little farm there. What a beautiful part of the world!

    Like

    • Rosey,
      The bridge is still there. I was alone the day I walked it, so no pictures, … but I did take many on that walk – so I image a future post is in the works. My aunt was glad to see us, and interestingly, she held up better on our departure than I did. Meanwhile, during you visit, I hope you got to travel into the mountainous area just north of Lucca. More to come!

      Like

    • Rachel,
      Special and emotional are good words to describe the trip … and yes, I got the chance to cross and stand the bridge, walk the road to the apartment building …. and alone, which was the best part.

      Like

  14. That’s such a lovely photo of your mum that holds so much significance. I’m so sorry to hear of all the untimely and tragic deaths but how wonderful you had the opportunity for the reunion. That must have been overwhelmingly special xx

    Like

  15. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story. The story about Italy drew me in, along with picture of your mom. I was engaged with the way you described it. I wanted this story to keep going. Thank you for sharing. Love, love the pics 🙂

    Like

    • Punky,
      Welcome … well, I think you are a first-time visitor. …. and wow … what timing with the movie featuring the beautiful Diane Lane. I hope you return … and I’ll stop by your site soon.

      Like

  16. Lovely, Frank, just lovely. I am so envious of people who have such depth of family relationships. It’s the way life was supposed to be. So glad you got a chance to go and so glad you’ve returned. We’ve missed you.

    Like

  17. Oh, man! Growing up without family, apart from those who share my roof, makes me enjoy the heck out of the post . . . all the more so since my blog brought me in touch with one of my cousins, who then put me in touch with the other two. It’s been almost a year since I saw the first cousin’s kids playing with my own son, but in my heart, it’s as if it was just yesterday. I can’t wait until November, when (it seems) they’ll likely be back again. I look forward to hearing more about your family adventures, assuming there’s more to come!

    Like

    • Deborah,
      Wow … thanks for sharing a portion of your life story because of this post .. and I can sense your excitement for the November meeting.

      More stories are to come … hopefully the next post will be one. Thanks for your interest.

      Like

  18. You have such a way of telling a story – makes it so real. Could just feel the the stone bridge – carnation fields? And such emotion looking up at the entrance – a small boy waiting at the end of the road for his grandfather.
    This was an important trip – so glad you went….and more stories! more stories. the little river: fast flowing or lazy, stones to sit on, cold water? Rest up, but expect plenty of us to pull up a chair for the stories.
    (And how nice to have family to visit and a chance to rediscover home)

    Like

    • Mouse,
      Many thanks for the kind words. I will tell you that the stream is relatively quick moving as it comes out of the hills, but it’s a little slower at that bridge. If I would have had more time, I would have touched the water. More to come.

      Like

  19. Not quite “back” myself, but VERY glad to both see you back, and to see your family – not to mention very glad for you, for the good time you obviously had.
    Now I gotta bounce back to your “Why” post. See ya over there, and welcome back!

    Like

  20. 1964 was a long time ago, as you say, Frank. But I remember it well, and the concerns we had then, and our hopes and our fears. Your mother looks so beautiful standing on that bridge, and your family too, as they gather to celebrate your visit. How wonderful that you were able to get together with your family like that. What a beautiful post!

    Like

  21. family and friends is really what life is all about – I love that you are drawn to connecting up your family and memories like that. Very powerful stories you’re telling here! Oh, and its good to see your face!

    Like

  22. You have a lovely family Frank..And it must have been a wonderful family reunion.. And I thank you for sharing and pointing me to this post I missed… 🙂 Distance doesn’t distance the heart connections..
    Have a Great Wednesday Frank

    Like

Comment with respect.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s