It has been over two years since we lost our home of 30 years to wildfire. Yet the loss sometimes feels as fresh as when it happened. It was the home where we raised our children and where in the last year or so we were there was also filled with remnants of our parents’ homes and earlier ancestors as well. People say “it is just stuff”, but it is much more than that. It is one’s history- encompassing not only ancestors, but the marking of our children’s lives in photos and keepsakes, and our own.
Beginning phase and finished phase of my Life Book Week 12 project. I chose to use an old photo of my daughter Ami with her cousin Caty (who recently passed away). This life moment was captured at my sister-in-law Pam’s wedding. Our theme for this month is “connections” and so I thought this photo was appropriate. Plus, it is an adorable photo of the two of them!
I set up this vignette using a letter my grandmother wrote to my family when I was young. My Mom’s parents had come from Lucca, Italy in the early 1900s. I regret the fact that I was never taught to speak Italian (my grandmother’s English was always pretty broken). My mother was of a generation that wanted to be strictly “American” and was derided for being Italian. I have entitled this piece “Letter from Nonna,” the Italian word for grandmother. I was never taught this word growing up, and wonder if it would have pleased my grandmother to be called “Grandma” in her own language. My mother must have been able to still read Italian in the 60s when this letter was written. I wish I had been taught to cherish this language and heritage. I have many letters written by my grandmother and also some from her relatives in Italy that I cannot read due to their being written in Italian. I may have to try to decipher them with an English-Italian dictionary. During WWII, my grandmother (who was not yet an American citizen, although my grandfather was), had to register as an “enemy alien” and was not allowed to have a radio in her home. My grandparents lived in San Francisco at that time. My Mother has often told me how proud my grandmother was when she took her American citizen test and the judge told her that he wished he knew American history as well as she did.