On Beach Walk: No. 25

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I think of my mother. How difficult it must have been to come to America with a 3-month old, a husband, and not knowing the language. She integrated into small-town America life, but she was fortunate to have other Italian families in the town and area.

I think about my mother as her and I returned to Italy for 6-8 months. It was her first trip back to see her mother, father, three sisters, and a brother. I was five years old, arriving knowing primarily English, yet returning only knowing Italian. Oh how the young mind absorbs language.

I think our return six years later. This time our entire family of four. But I didn’t realize until many years later that the passing of my grandfather initiated the summertime journey that gave me my first plane ride.

I think about my mother receiving a letter that my grandmother died. How lonely of a feeling that must have been, yet I recall not really knowing what to tell her.

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I think about my mother displaying kindness and acceptance from the first day she met the one who would eventually became my wife … and that would never change – and my wife still remembers her first exposure to a festive meal involving homemade ravioli as a side dish … (not the main course).

I think about my mother returning to Italy to see her sisters a few more times – but without me. I was older – either in college or working.

I think about my mother battling cancer for three years – first a breast, then the liver. She never wanted the rounds of chemo and radiation – but she took it all.

I think about the phone call I received from my mother sometime during that three-year battle. She was in Florida, I in Ohio – Crying, she said “I love you.” … words that were not commonly spoken in our house.

I think about various events around the day of her passing – it’s timing with the start of a new school year – the words I spoke at her funeral (which I posted here as in several parts).

I think about my mother smiling on my return to Italy in 2013 – a trip when I visited my mother’s only surviving sister – my aunt that I had seen in 48+ years. (Posted here)

I think about my mother as I passed her family’s home – the apartment where I spent 6-8 months – a building that is now abandoned, but awaiting a new life. (Posted here)

I think about my mother dying young – a month shy of her 59th birthday – and to think my life has surpassed hers by six years. She would be 90 this September.

Today is Mother’s Day – but I wrote this post after a beach walk because walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You never heard this song, but you would have loved it.

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On Mother’s Day

With this being Mother’s Day weekend, a quick change in plans on today’s post, thus a quick introduction about my mother.

My mother passed away in 1987 one month shy of turning 59 – much too young, but cancer can do that – and to think that I’m now 59. Because this post is short and spontaneous, here’s something about her today. Besides, I recently converted slides into digital files.

Mom was an Italian citizen, and we came to the US together when I was 2’2’’ at the ripe old age of three months. She grew up in the shadows of WW I, Mussolini’s Fascist rule, and Nazi occupation. She met my dad in the early 1950s while he served in Italy after his re-enlistment.

My grandfather worked in a factory to support my grandmother and four kids: my mother, her two sisters, and a crippled brother. They had to be poor as I can remember staying at their small, third floor apartment with its  cobblestone floor and the kitchen as its heat source.

I never asked why she never became a U.S. citizen, but I think she dealing with reading a test and dealing in her adopted language scared her because her skills  lie in her hands as she loved to cook and sew – much like my grandmother – her work ethic, and her gentle, kind nature was the personality that people loved.

Here’s my mom at age 35 and her Tuscan hometown in the background. Interestingly, I think that’s the factory where my grandfather worked.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!