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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A TOUCH OF HOME

He was a big hulking man, filled with kindness. He showed up every Sunday morning to pay his respects to my mother and father. He was ‘il Goomba’, a friend from the home turf.
He walked with a cane, and would climb the two flights of stairs with measured precision, the cane in his right hand calling out greetings in broken English as we eagerly awaited him. He had two sons and a daughter, and the most wonderful wife a man could ask for even though I didn’t understand half of her words, as she mixed Neapolitan with English, a kindness radiating from both husband and wife.
When he entered the apartment on Sunday, Dad or Mom would reach for a whiskey bottle Dad kept out of reach of his young prodigy who I am sure would have been tempted to try it out.
Dad would pour the old man one shot of whiskey, and ‘Pop’ as Dad called him would salute us, raising the shot glass eye level and down it went. They would chat in Italian and soon he would leave. But the visit did not stop there. Next to visit us was Mike, his youngest unmarried son, who was a joyful man and up he came, reaching into Mom’s sauce to fish out a meatball, and in one motion from the pot to his mouth, in went a meatball! No, he didn’t break it first.
'Dad' the kindest man I ever met.

Many a morning, when I came home from church, Mom would ask me to go to A “Ah Goommada” for some prezzemolo, the parsley. I would walk over a few apartments to “Ah Goommada’s” place, reach up to ring her doorbell from the bank of buttons and call up to her: My mother says do you have any prezzemolo?’ She would laugh while I was climbing the steps where I was first entertained with a cup of coffee and a donut. For a six or seven year-old, this was being a big boy! All too often, I would go home without the parsley and was sent back. We went full cycle from Pop having a shot at my kitchen, to me having a donut with coffee in his kitchen!
And so the joy of having people from the old country, sitting next to you in a strange land help with the language barrier, acceptance into society that was a struggle at first, and into the world of today, a revered race of people both in the world of Italy, America and the whole world leave their mark in art, science, math and medicine, culinary and amore', a wonderful gift of love and life.

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