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.
14 thoughts on “I’m a Blogger Now”
What a perfect way to end your first blog – “after all, we’re all family.” That simple thought is all consuming, isn’t it?! Just those five little words speak volumes and profoundly describes the message given to us from a very early age. We all were raised to deeply care for and respect all our family, whether blood relatives or close friends. They were all the same – there was no distinction at all. Our closest friends were as family to us as our family. There was no separation. How many very close friends of our parents were our “aunts” and “uncles.” Their children our cousins. It’s just how it is…a given…automatic…no question. I truly love every facet of our heritage. Am I too emotional about things and think about things too seriously sometimes, yes…but the passion we have in us is a gift I believe. Our love and passion for our people…for life…for food…for celebrating everything that comes up…there’s nothing better. Our devotion to our children and trying to carry on these traditions in the contemporary, technology ridden, fast paced world we live in is quite challenging. Your blog is a great way to keep it all alive and in the forefront of our hearts and minds. Thank you Pat for all this wonderful writing! It means so much to be able to share it with you! Of course it does, we’re family. :*) xo Tina
Thank you Tina- I couldn’t agree more. Passing on these traditions of family and heritage that we share as Italian Americans is difficult in this world we live in. Funny how our grandparents wanted to assimilate into the American culture and were so successful that we have lost some of the things that make us special along the way.
I am sure other ethnic groups who feel this way too – from the groups who arrived at the turn of the 20th century, like the Italians, to the people who come here today and try to both fit in and hold on to their traditions and unique cultural points of view.
And while I love the idea of sharing our Italian heritage here on this blog, I would also like to know about how other ethnic groups deal with this same dilemma of fitting in and keeping true to one’s heritage at the same time.
Congratulations on your first blog entry. You have a marvelous, direct, unpretentious voice. You have a many-layered culture to delve into and tie together the threads that link you to your past. You will go far with this blog.
I love it, Patty, and think it’s a great idea to turn your mom’s words to a book.
So many people love to read that type of books.
Denise of Ingleside, PEI
Thank you Jay- I appreciate the feedback and encouragement!
Denise- thanks so much for the feedback! I do hope you’re right! And I appreciate the pointers you tweeted as well- will definitely consider those changes as I progress.
I love your openness. It will be exciting to follow and see where you go with this, Patty.
Thanks Lisa – I appreciate yoiur words of encouragement- as always. I too am excited to see where it all takes me. Stay tuned!!
Love your voice, Patty. Brava for writing your mother’s memoirs.
Thank you Beth- it has been an enlightening journey to say the least! Looking forward to checking your blog out as well!
Very interesting. I especially liked your most recent post. I may be biased, however I think a relatable thread can be found regardless. The whole idea of nicknames is fascinating and I think really captures your (our) family. Really funny but also poignant. Great range. Excited to read more!
Thanks Sean!! I appreciate the feedback– ask your mom about Lemonheads sometime– not so much a nickname but a state of mind! Really just a picture of us as kids with yellow hoods on, but thinking about it always makes me smile.
Looking forward to more comments – so keep reading and sharing!
My mother was born in Castro Valva and moved to MA when she was two. It was interesting how much the family kept the Italian culture alive.
Thanks for the feedback Sabrynne
We have tried to keep it alive too- but it seems to get diluted with each generation.
Feel free to comment on any customs, recipes, etc that are similar or different from your own experiences- there are so many variations within Italian and Italian American cultures.