Old Pictures, Something Shiny, and Life

 

My day usually starts with good intentions, and then something shiny crosses my path, and I’m distracted in a flash.  Monday of this week, while at Orange Theory Fitness, I felt something “snap” in my hipish area.  I just ignored it and crushed the rest of the class, but by the time the short three-mile drive home was over, I could barely get out of my little car. I have been nursing my hip all week and trying to convince myself I wasn’t old, that it wasn’t my hip that hurt and it was all in my mind.  But that fact remains, my hip and the surrounding area hurt, so, this week I was nursing my old hip. As I sat on my couch this morning, with my hip almost at 100%, I grabbed my book, put my phone away, and turned off the impending doom shouting from my television. I was finally going to finish this book before I started working in a few short weeks.

Then bam, something shiny.  I love to use old photographs as bookmarks, and when I opened my book, the picture at the top of this post fell out. I couldn’t help but just stare at it and start to do some math in my head. I was pregnant with my first chicken, so the year was 1991, which means I was 24 and younger than the current age of my youngest chicken.  My mother’s twin next to me was 46 and younger than I am currently. My grandmother on the left of me was 77 and would die in four short years.  My Aunt Florence, my grandmother’s sister was 79 and would go on to live for nine more years.

I sat and stared at that picture for a good half hour. I missed my grandmother, and I’ve written about a lot of my memories of her in my post “Brave – Part One,” but this bookmark picture made me realize I wish I would have done the two-hour drive from Pennsylvania to Long Island and visited her more often than I did. I wish I would have sat down at her dining room table with a bowl of her pasta and meatballs and just talked to her and my grandfather and asked her about her memories.  Memories of her childhood, when my grandfather courted her, and about having four girls in three years.

A few weeks ago I went to Dallas and saw my mom along with her twin sister Aunt Sue and older sister Aunt Maria. My Aunt Sue had insisted me, and my two sisters and she and her two sisters go someplace quiet and just talk.  Catch up with each other’s lives. We ended up at the bar in my hotel and when we all settled in, drinks in hand, we caught up. But the catching up wasn’t just about our current lives; it had very little to do with our current lives.  Our conversations centered around my grandparents, about my aunts when they were little, and stories I had never heard.  How my Great Uncle Tony’s name wasn’t Anthony, but when he came over from Italy he was going to New York, so like many other immigrants, they changed his name to Tony for To NY. My sisters and heard stories of the boarding house my great-grandparents owned in the Catskills and how my grandmother and her siblings were chamber maids in the summers.  How my mom and Aunt Sue decided to “help” and washed the kitchen floor with a huge pot of sauce that was cooling on the floor in the pantry.

There were so many laughs that night, and it was honestly the best part of the whole trip, and it wouldn’t have happened if my Aunt Sue wasn’t so persistent.  As I look at that picture again, I wish I had insisted on sitting with my Aunt Sue, my grandmother, and her sister Florence.  Insisted they tell me what to expect with my first chicken on its way, how to get through the rough patches that I was going through with my then husband, and how exactly they got their sauce to taste so much better than mine.

I looked at that picture one last time and thought that life often gets in the way of connecting with the older members of our family and before you know it they are gone. I suppose life is funny that way, the older you get, the more you want to connect to the younger generation, the older you get, the more reflective you get, the older you get, the faster time passes. I put that picture back in my book, looked to the sky and gave a quick wink to my grandmother and picked up the phone and insisted my chickens spend some time with me.

Call your mom, she wants to hear from you and if you are lucky enough to have your grandparents around, go visit them, they miss you.

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5 Replies to “Old Pictures, Something Shiny, and Life”

  1. I always love to say, “I grew up Italian.” When I was young, I gravitated toward the people who always seemed to be the happiest as well as the friendliest. Most of my closest friends, then, were Italian. I was always invited to go to the homes of my Italian friends to meet their families, and almost 100% of the time, I had to call home to ask if I could accept an invitation to stay for dinner with the family. I have adapted this custom to my own life, inviting my closest friends to meet my family in our home for dinner, and have encouraged my children to do so also. This they have taken to heart. So my children are Italians, and their children are Italians, so that for every important occasion in their lives, they are surrounded by family and, usually, by friends also.

  2. Sue zeun, hi Gina I’m your cousin. Your grandma and my father Alphonso (uncle Al) were brother and sister. I am uncle Al’s daughter. I agree that as we get older we think back more on the family. I have a movie that Florence which is our cousin sent to me when I watch that movie I cried. I knew all the aunts and uncles and to this day I missed them. Well seven children of a Assunti Visconti we’re very close. I can remember as a child growing up going to see grandma and grandpa and uncle Ferena Caferio. Everyone sat around the big kitchen table and used to tell stories and jokes and as a child I love to listen to them. We all used to get together at holiday time and even though we lived in Catskill we would travel down to South ozone Park to be with family and cousins. So make sure your kids come and visit and your grandchildren it creates many memories. The picture you sent in your blog brought back some fond memories to me also. Thank you for your blog. Second cousin to you Sue.

  3. Loved your blog and love you for caring so much for your extended family as well as your own. I look at that picture and I also think of lost opportunities to know more about my mom and dad and family. Our visit together was wonderful and I’m so glad we were able to share our memories, thoughts and feelings. We truly have an amazing family and should make every effort to get together more often.. Love you!
    Aunt Sue

  4. Sue cafiero Ricciuti says: Reply

    Reading this is wonderful. I Florence and Jennie Visconti were my 1st cousins. Their mother, Assunta Cafiero Visconti, was my dad’s sister. I miss them but have memories I treasure.

  5. Gina a lovely blog and so true. I wish I would have done more with my parents, but it seems its when people we love are gone that we review our relationships and wish we would have done more.
    I feel that way about my husband. Rich and I enjoyed our life together but there are so many things I wish we would have done and could have done but just didn’t take the time. However, it’s not to late to take the extra step with the people we love that are here. Love you, Aunt Maria

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