Wednesday, December 07, 2016


crunched-up gathering of one or both hands,
If you are Italian/American, then you know the importance of the hands. Italian hands can do it all, from delicate cooking and baking to stone and masonry. While it labors out of love, it also can communicate messages far beyond the written and spoken word. To be Italian means you are multi-lingual, communication with both speech and hands.

The hands have a power by the movement Italians impose on them from a prayerful wave to a crunched-up gathering of one or both hands, we do need to be understood. The beauty of the Italian communicant is he or she can raise the level of the voice or the position of the hand to convey once or more than once the same message.

Grandma was a hand user to the nth power, and often under the flurry of words came the flow of movements. You never saw her mouth move because her hands were in the way! You got the message, she didn't have to point. The thing is when she spoke, her hands flashed from all the rings she was wearing, it is amazing she got them high when she was raising her voice from the weight of the jewelry!
Grandpa, on the other hand, was a quiet man, never raised his voice or hands above his hips. One hand motion lasted the whole sentence while Grandma needed many motions to complete a sentence.

We had a cousin Mauro who was deaf, and we always spoke to him in sign language, that is with our hands very high in the air.

English sign language is very different from Italian, there are more symbols to spell out although there aren't as many letters.

When we all got together on the holidays, Grandma's kitchen was crowded with women that let it all loose, hands flying everywhere, the air vibrated so much you needed a sweater! The din alone from Aunt Tessie telling a story and asking for confirmation from Uncle Joe added to the noise level, causing the National Seismograph Association to report of tremors in the heart of Brooklyn!

If you broke a hand or had it in a cast, what could you say?  One aunt was very quiet, and everyone thought she was angry, turns out she was just sitting on her hands.

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