This is a huge step for me. A blog. I am becoming a blogger. It doesn’t sound pleasant, and I can’t stop thinking of Harry Potter’s Quidich team and the bludgers- those big black iron balls that try to knock the players off their broomsticks. My goal here is not to knock anyone off his or her broomstick, but I do hope I leave you with a positive impression and a reason to read, comment and interact with me and others who follow these posts.For the past year and a half I have been working to put together my mother’s memoirs. I figured the task would be an easy one and would help me get my feet wet in the world of real writing. Not writing that I scribble out on a pad and then shove in a shoe box in the back of my closet, and not writing that I bang out in a fury and then save to a file folder that I’ll never refer to again. Real, grown up writing.
I’d like to say the experience has been easy, positive and totally rewarding. But I can’t. Not totally.
My mother, for any of you who know her or know of her, is a treasure. She’s given her life to her family, sacrificing always, loving unconditionally, and being whatever her husband, children, grand children, and great-grandchildren wanted – a cook, a maid, a mother, a friend, a clown, or someone who you kiss hello and goodbye on major holidays and family gatherings. I have always considered her somewhat two-dimensional. She served the purpose of being my mother, I loved her and figured she was part of an older, out of touch generation. It’s easy to take the most important aspects of your life for granted.
My mother read me lots of notes she had compiled over the years – about her parents who came from Italy, her days in school, growing up on Marshall Street in Providence during the Depression, meeting my father, getting married, having her five children. Lots of facts, descriptions and happy recollections. I took copious notes, did research about the times on Federal Hill, where most Italian Americans from Rhode Island lived, and where my mother lived, worked and raised a family.
That was the easy part. The difficulties started when I realized the many layers and dimensions of my mother’s life, and how similar we were despite the forty years between us. We both were the youngest in large families, we both had an older sister who was seventeen years older than us, making us both mid-life babies. Those were the easy comparisons.
Then the tough realizations faced me. We both let time and circumstance determine our life’s journey instead of asserting ourselves and having the confidence to follow our dreams, we both suffered from anxiety and depression and did our best to overcome it. We both see food as a comfort and a cure-all.
The differences in our generations, in our cultures, and in the choices available to us have made us the women we are today. I’ve tried to capture that as best I can, because that is what this memoir is all about. Not just the facts, the memories and the descriptions – but the choices, the decisions and the strength my mother gave me without even realizing it. If she grew up during my generation would she have fared better than I did? I know I never would have survived if I grew up in her era – she has more strength and character than I could ever muster.
I hope this blog can tell you about the book I’m drafting so that you’ll be interested and want to read it. I also hope that it makes a connection with you somehow – whether it be the cultural heritage of being an Italian American, or being a child with a deep parental connection that you don’t fully understand yet, or someone who likes to eat home-made lasagna, I hope you gain something from this blog and can feel free to share your experiences. After all, we’re all family.