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Monday, June 05, 2017

MY INHERITANCE

As I look back over the many years I lived, I wonder what I learned from it all. I wonder what was imparted to me, and if I have imparted anything in anyone else.

Looking back at all the many people that walked through my life and what they said and did, I realize how rich life has been and can be. But no matter what phase of my life I gather to, it always takes me back to those wonderful people with the accents that filled my heart, my soul and my future with a rich understanding that life is art. My grandparents, the very people who dared to cross the ocean in a foreign transport, a ship that took them away from their homes and little villages, from the comfort of their foods and familiar voices, and left them standing on the shores of a new land as complete strangers, yearning for all the things they remember and left behind, including those who they loved, maybe second-guessing their decision.

More often than not, when they struggled for acceptance, building a dream with a job, place to live and children, were always reaching for the light, stretching mightily to hold that light, bask in its warmth and hand it off to their offspring. But it wasn't just a ‘light', it was a symbol of their sacrifice and labor, their love, and their lives. It shone in their eyes and said: "Yes, I am American now!"

What did I inherit?

I inherited the realization that life is love, that love is a song that is played over, and over again in my heart and soul. It is the rich tapestry of the many strokes or layers of threads that gave me memories and smiles, tears and joy. It allowed me to pass on to my children that uniqueness that is my Italian culture, expanded with American ways of life that completed that very tapestry. Yet what I pass on can only be diluted, but not forgotten. Every Christmas time when my oldest boy was growing up, I taught him songs about the humor of being Italian in America. I told him about uncles and aunts and played for him, songs by Lou Monte, songs that made my Dad laugh and made me laugh because Dad was laughing.

Last Christmas I enjoyed my son introducing to his daughter, my granddaughter his Christmas favorite; Dominic the Christmas Donkey! A little part of my Dad, his Grandpa was passed on, I felt humbled.

Mom was a laugher and loved to sing to herself as she passed the dust rag over the furniture or stirred the pasta. She loved the Italian-American humor and she got her sense of humor from someone in her past.

But what did I inherit?

I guess I inherited her sense that to laugh is to live and to live is to love, to love is to sing in your heart because you can't live unless you love. That is the cycle of life that my grandparents gave her, then me, strangely before they even met me.


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