72 – Mom

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to the all mothers

Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.

I like walking on the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I think of my mother. How difficult it must have been to come to America – a new country – with a 3-month old, a husband, and not knowing the language. She integrated into small-town-America life, but she was fortunate to have other Italian families in the town and area.

I think about my mother as she and I returned to Italy for 6-8 months, the year before I started first grade. It was her first trip back to see her mother, father, three sisters, and a brother since leaving for America with a newborn and without knowing the language. I was five years old, arriving knowing primarily English, but I returned only knowing Italian. Oh, how the young mind absorbs language.

I think about our return six years later. This time our entire family of four. I didn’t realize until many years later that the passing of my grandfather initiated the summertime journey that gave me my first plane ride.

On an overlook in her hometown. My grandmother was born in the village above her head.

I think about my mother receiving a letter that my grandmother died. How lonely of a feeling that must have been for her, yet I recall not knowing what to tell her.

I think about my mother displaying kindness and acceptance from the first day she met the one who eventually became my wife … and that would never change. My wife still remembers her first exposure to a festive meal involving homemade ravioli as a side dish – not the main course.

I think about my mother returning to Italy to see her sisters a few more times – but without me. I was older – either in college or working.

I think about my mother battling cancer for three years. First, a breast; then the liver three years later. She never wanted the rounds of chemo and radiation – but she took it all.

On a bridge leading to the family apartment

I think about the phone call I received from my mother sometime during that three-year battle. She in Florida – Me in Ohio. Crying, she said words not commonly spoken in our house – “I love you.”

I think about various events around the day of her passing. The timing with the start of a new school year causing me to miss the first two days with students. Me getting the idea to speak at her funeral – not a eulogy – but a sermon. Somehow, I did it with confidence and without a whimper.

I think about my mother smiling on my return to Italy in 2013 – a trip when I visited my mother’s only surviving sister – my aunt that I had seen in 48+ years. Seeing two first cousins I hadn’t seen since then, plus meeting two first cousins for the first time.

I think about my mother as I passed her family’s home with tears streaming from my eyes. The old apartment building where I spent 6-8 months. A building that is now abandoned, but showing the possibility of a new life.

I think about my mother dying young – a month shy of her 59th birthday – and to think my life has surpassed hers by 9 years.

Looking back, my mother was something that many didn’t think of her as – not even me – but now I realize she was courageous. She was blessed with the courage to trust those around her.

This is Mother’s Day weekend – but I wrote this post after a beach walk on my February birthday, but I saved it for this special day. Thinking about my mother was a good reflection for my day. I like walking on the beach, which is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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108 thoughts on “72 – Mom”

  1. This is a lovely post. My parents emmigrated to Canada in the 60’s and courageous is a good word. Only letters for communication. It was a different time. 🙏 thanks….I am going to call my mum now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Frank! This is no time of day to start me off crying. Those voices are so beautiful, and I felt for your Mum and her journey. It’s an evil battle with that illness. Mine too died of cancer, at 65 when she had just retired, but that is 30 years ago now, and I’m already 7 years older than her when she died. I can relate to the meeting of cousins too. My own Polish family welcomed me with open arms and what I know of the many Italians here, they are warm and loving people.
    It’s not Mother’s Day here but I’ve enjoyed your tribute, and I am again in your mother’s homeland today. I wonder if it’s a place you know? Have a wonderful day, Frank! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo,
      Oh my … thanks for sharing what is interesting parallels in our lives. Those little tidbits made me smile. So many cultures are welcoming to visitors – especially family. About 5 years ago they met my wife for the first time, which includes some funny stories. But you are currently in Italy? WOW … the EU borders a more open? Where are you? Both sides of my family are near Lucca.

      Like

  3. A lovely heartfelt post Frank. A beautiful way to start my day thinking about all mothers. I listen to this beautiful song the other day after reading your previous post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rupali,
      Yes – definitely a salute to all mothers. Personal stories are fun to think about when I walk. I tend to be more reflective on my birthday – so this isn’t the only post that I’ve written on my day in February. Glad you enjoyed the musical duet. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mothers are so precious, and yours was of the most precious. I almost started to cry…

    We have many parallels, with immigrant families, Mom taking her children to ‘show off’ to the family left behind, and so on. (Oncew when I was 3 months and my sister was 3 years. and again when I was seven and my brother was three…a brave lady, to travel alone!)
    My Mom also suffered from Cancer, once, and again after 10 years…which the treatments were likely worse than the illness…and she passed from the effects on her heart and brain. But at least I was blessed to have her with me on all our shared birthdays for 42 years, and then over the phone for many more, until she passed at age 81. (Yes, I interrupted her party to join the family on her birthday!)
    After she passed, in 2005, I too was diagnosed with a stage 3b cancer with a very guarded prognoses…and I was so distraught that when I was declared to ‘have no evidence of disease’, I couldn’t call her to rejoice about it. I am glad that she got to know our sons, and the older one played the organ for her service…as he would do for her when we would travel the 320 miles to see her.

    The hardest thing for me ever about my Mom, was seeing her very sad and weeping after her dad passed away, she was such a strong woman, but there her normal composure broke down.

    Now my birthdays are all a bit bittersweet, since she isn’t here anymore to share our special day together, the worst were the first few…

    Thanks for sharing your Mom with all of us, she sure was a priceless gem in your life.

    PS: Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sure sang so beautifully! I love hearing him sing, with just a piano. Then you really can her all the nuances in his voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ingrid,
      Thank you for your touching comment – so much so, you brought a tear to my eyes. 🙂 … but in a good way. Of the comments so far, this is the second that seems to have many parallels. I had to laugh at the way you interrupted her birthday party … and I imagine that is something she always happy to share.

      Andrea Bocelli has a wonderful gift to share. I just watch it again, which got the tears flowing again. I recall how 5 years ago, one of my cousins proudly showed me where he lives and let me know that they attended the same church service once. 🙂 I think I used another one of his videos in a recent walk – and know that I have another one in the future. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Parents play such a defining role in our lives. My mother and my father each have their place in my memories. As we get older we understand more. Time has sweetened many memories and made some more painful. Thanks for the heartfelt tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A beautiful tribute to your mother, Frank. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like your mother was very courageous, and I’m sorry she had to go through that 3-year battle. It’s great that you still keep in touch with your family in Italy. I’ve wondered about my grandparents and great-grandparents and how difficult it must have been for them to immigrate–but fortunate that they did so!
    My daughter sang “Time to Say Goodbye” at a recital once. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merril,
      Thank you. Cancer is horrible. Treatments have come a long way since the 1980s, but still have a way to go. What immigrants went through impresses me. The courage just to pack up and leave is one thing, but also with all they endured in their new land … and to think this happened across the globe. Meanwhile, glad the video also sparked one of your memories!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your mother was lovely, thank you for sharing a bit about her and your roots in Italy. The song is beautifully poignant. I remember little about my own mother having passed when I was very young but my Grandmother who stepped in to raise me was a remarkable woman , strong and loving. Enjoy your day Frank. Perfect beach weather here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your mother would be proud. I can see her in you. I hope that some of my mothers traits are in me, I think they are. She was a rock, a confidant, a font of wisdom when the world didn’t think women were smart. I miss her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pam,
      Thank you for the kind words. Cheers to your mother, and it is understandable why you miss her. With those traits, it would be interesting to see what she would accomplish in today’s world . Although we still have a long way to go, have advantaged since her days.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, Frank! This post brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely tribute to your mother. I, too, have had breast cancer, but I am one of the lucky ones—it’s been 11 years for me, and my prognosis was always good. I consider your mother a sister-in-arms, one of a legion who must deal with this terrible disease. She will be in my thoughts for quite a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laurie,
      Thank you for the special words. I’m touched. It’s possible that what she and all the other women went through in the 1980s helped improve the lives of others today. The battle against this enemy is definitely, long, slow, and up a steep mountain. Thank you for sharing and Happy Mother’s Day to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a lovely tribute to your mother, and what an interesting family history you have. So it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow eh? With us it’s always the fourth Sunday in Lent, dating back to the days when young people ‘in service’ were given the day off to go and visit their homes. I see that Italy and Spain both share the same date as you, but France is later in May. How complicated it all is!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret,
      Thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoyed a bit of my personal history. I actually have a few more posts in the future that are more personal. Thanks for the complicated celebration information. A quick search showed by that there are over 30 different celebratory days across the world. Now that’s more complicated than either of us imagined! Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow to you from the USA.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Frank,
    This is a lovely reflection of your mother. Your deep love for her is obvious.
    Mothers Day is a wonderful day, when our mothers are still with us.
    Still, after they are gone there is an unparalleled unrequited poignancy to their memory, especially on Mother’s Day. The song is perfect!
    Happy Mother’s Day Frank! (cheeky me 🙃)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Resa,
      Thank you. For those of us whose mothers are no longer with us, Mother’s Day is one of those reflective days. Interestingly for me, I wrote this on my February birthday – a day I tend to reflect. Still, the memories stay with us, and for that, I am thankful. Does Canada celebrate it on the same day as this side of the border?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Another thing we share, Frank — I, too, am full Italian on my mother’s side!! Of course, I missed the olive complexion and dark hair, but my dad’s genes intervened there. Anyway, I love these memories of your mother and I know she’s smiling down from Heaven upon reading them. I’m so sorry you had to lose her so early.

    Like

    1. Debbie,
      You caused me to chuckle because the olive skin color and dark, curly hair is not on either sides of my family! Even one of my Italian cousins say I don’t look that Italian, and my genes are just as much Italian as his. Oh well …. Thanks for the kind words and for sharing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Beautiful, Frank! And thank you for the Mother’s Day wish. Being a mother is one of the most wonderful and terrifying things in the world. She was lucky to have such a sensitive son.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your post is poignant, Frank. I fully understand the tribute you pay to your mom.
    She taught you love for your neighbor.
    And I understand all the better that I lost both my parents on the same day in 1956. I was their only child .
    In friendship
    Michel

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lovely tribute, Frank, to a remarkable woman. I’m bless to be able to spend tomorrow with my mom who’s now 91. I’m sorry you didn’t have more time with yours but it was certainly quality time.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheryl,
      Thank you for the kind words. All those photos were taken in 1964, I’m not sure how many I have form my photo print days – but my sister has most of the family photos (and she’s a 3-hour drive away). On my old blog I wrote a post about the day in 2013 when I walk alone across that bridge where she is standing to the other end of the road to see the old apartment building. For me, it was quite emotional – but it was something I had to do alone – and I’m glad I did.

      Like

  16. A beautiful and moving post Frank. I lost my Mom years ago to Alzheimers but I remember so many Mother’s Days – wonderful ones, “difficult” ones, missed ones….but I am part of her and she is part of me and no matter what, our Moms are in our hearts forever aren’t they. I have been a Cat Mom all my adult life and nurturing is a big part of who I am. Your Mom sounds like a very special lady. Moms make so many sacrifices for us – often it’s only years later and sometimes (like for me) only after they are gone do we realize that. Here’s to Moms everywhere for the amazing job they do with the most important “job” they will ever have………….. Thanks for sharing your story Frank.

    Pam

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What a beautiful tribute to your beloved mother. It was lovely to learn about her life and how special she was to you and how welcoming she was to your wife. 💕 Sounds like she was an amazing woman, her life a wonderful gift.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, all my family are in the UK. And this is the second time my partner has moved country as she’s originally from Australia, so we have family there too. But it’s much easier to move country when your partner’s company pays for the move and organises the visa 😁

        Liked by 1 person

              1. It’s worth it once you get there! Such an amazing and varied landscape, and lots of nice beaches! But there’s also lots of creatures that can kill you 🤣

                Like

  18. A beautiful, heartfelt post to honor not only your dear mother, Frank, but mothers everywhere. I can imagine you on this walk thinking about your mom. 59 is very young, but her zest for life and Italian heritage gave you a foundation on which to build amazing memories. Love her photos, very beautiful! I’m blessed to be able to talk to my 30-something daughters on a regular basis, and receive the cool gifts they send every year! Apparently, I raised thoughtful young women, although I felt helpless half the time as a busy single mom with two jobs! Your mother would be proud of the man you became and the joy your blog brings to many! have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Terri,
      Thank you for the kind words. I recall the day I wrote this as I was very reflective that day – my birthday in February – and I believe the day I took the background photo used here. The photos of here are from 1964 – me included in one along with my sister and a cousin. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. Raising two girls as a single mom with two jobs – wow! I can’t imagine – but it seems you did well. Cheers to you for that! Happy Mother’s Day.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. My grandparents were Italian but never went back. When I go to Italy I wonder if I have relatives there now… I’m glad your mother went back and took you with her!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Meg,
      Thanks for sharing a bit about your family. My guess is they probably do. You would need to know their town, and if they had siblings. For me, I still have an aunt and 4 first cousins still there – so my ties are close. Looking forward to visiting them again, well … if the virus ever gets under control.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. You brought back a lot here. I think of my Mother often, I guess that is normal. She had her breast cancer when she was forty and we lost her when she was 42. My sisters and I used 42 as a marker for a lot of things. We all have outlived her considerably even though I had breast cancer when I was 35 and one of my sisters in her 50s. Still Mother’s Day is difficult. Thank you for sharing your Mother with us briefly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michelle,
      Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. 42 is way too young – and also due to that horrible cancer. Love the way you honor the number 42. I can’t imagine what went through your mind when you and your sister received the cancer news. Peace and strength to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Such a beautiful tribute to your beautiful mother Frank, her bravery, love of you, her courage with cancer and all the memories and great pictures you shared. Much love to you and thanks for the M.D. wishes to all of us❣️💖💓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cindy,
      Thank you. She passed away in 1987, and to think I wrote this over 30 years later. Those pics were taken in 1964 – and in her native land. FYI: For whatever reason, your comment (and the one on candles) went to my Spam folder. I tell you that so you are aware if that is happening on other blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Such. a beautiful tribute and remembrance of your mother, Frank. She was indeed very courageous as you describe her coming to America, leaving family behind in Italy, and then again in her struggle with Cancer. No matter the years between, you never quite move on from such a loss. Thank you for sharing such a personal story and journey. I really enjoyed the family photos, as well. I would have liked to hear your sermon, Frank. I am sure it was meaningful and very heartfelt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debra,
      Thanks for the kind words as your comment made me smile. Given her simple and kind personality, courageous is not a term that that I doubt anyone would have used to describe her. But on this day, it came to me around several events. Regarding the sermon, I turned it into a 3-part series on aFa. Here’s the link. The first 2 tell a story that sets up the actually sermon (part 3). Here’s the link to the first one. To fast forward, there is a link to the next part at the end. https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/on-the-dominos-of-a-message/

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Frank, you have outdone yourself expounding your mother’s attributes. It speaks well of your relationship. I’m sorry you had to lose her so early in both of your lives. My mother had cancer at about the same time as yours, She had surgery and lived another twenty years battling end stage kidney disease. Her life was not easy those last twenty years, but I would have been lost without her. Even in her illness, I would not have traded a second of her life away. It was hard to work and care for her, and I can identify with the difficulty of having to miss teaching, but having to be with family. You touched hearts with this one, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marsha,
      Thank you. Oh my – you took care of your mother for about 20 years? … and while working? Wow. Caretakers are special, so a tip of the cap to you. My dad was such a dedicated caretaker for my mother, she was worried about his health. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The time went quickly, and I wasn’t with her the whole time. She moved from Portland to CA when she was 72. She had started dialysis and I could continue making visits every time she went to the hospital. Also, the took her driver’s license away. That handicapped her.

        Like

  24. What a beautiful tribute to your mother. My mom died young. She was 54. Her family is Italian. With her grandparents coming from Italy. I love old photos and hearing stories. I wish I knew more. I’d also love to visit the areas of Italy that family is from.

    Liked by 1 person

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