Growing Up Italian

Being of Italian descent led to a very interesting life…..pot of sauce on the stove
starting to cook at 9:00 in the morning and cooking at a low temperature all day….
meatballs and sausage was a staple in our home (Oh my God….how did I ever
eat meat…..now being a vegetarian over 20 years)….my uncles just dropping
by to say hello and staying for breakfast..lunch and dinner…and leaving when
all the liquor in the house was exhausted…a would-be relative musician either
singing, my uncles harmonizing or playing a guitar or mandolin…..my mother
always had enough food to feed the neighborhood and serving meals
continuously all weekend…..Uncle Nick pinching my cheeks so hard that I
wanted to cry…..Uncle Angelo always handing me a dollar bill to buy myself
a special something and Uncle Mickey always requesting that I pull his finger….weddings and funerals that always ended up in a brawl either among
my uncles, cousins or strangers intervening in family affairs….men ruling the
roost or thinking they did…..living in a neighborhood where there were only
Italians and never realizing until I was in high school that there were other
people out there.

Of course..I wondered why did they shelter their children so much….and guess
what as wonderful as life was…i was stifled…I didn’t know what life really was…
and I rebeled and enjoyed rebeling…found out what life was really like…what
other nationalities and races were really like….how it was my duty..as well as
everyone’s elses to fight racism..to fight for women’s rights..to realize being
more than just a wife and mother….to fulfill other dreams….to realize that I didn’t
have to marry one of the boys in the neighborhood….my husband didn’t have
to be Italian…..to not worry all the time about what other people said or thought
of me….to be me and not an extension of a husband.

I cannot say that my life was bad as a child….it was wonderful..warm and I
had caring loving parents….but my mother and her family didn’t always get it….
but my father..the man of few words and many thoughts…always encouraged
me to be me and saw my need to be a rebel….he worried about me and situations
I sometimes got myself into….but he never reacted as if I did anything wrong….
he was my rock and I will always appreciate his insight into the need for racial
harmony, women’s rights and my need to be independent. My mother was a
soft warm women who was raised in a very strict Italian family and attempted
to raise her four daughters that way…..well..three of them did follow the rules..
but not her youngest..me..the rebel..but I am very proud of my Italian background
and my family..they did the best they could in a time that was difficult.

Journal Comments

  • olawunmi
  • Sally Omar
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