Pages

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How the Past Reasserts Itself

I didn't need Memorial Day to remember the people in my life who sacrificed for me. In our immediate family, we have relatives who served in just about every major war.  Between us, my husband and me, we can list grandfathers, uncles, brothers, all having served in the military.  In my case, my grandfather Paolo, sitting here with my infant mother on his lap, received a leg wound that troubled him for the rest of his life, changing the children's fortunes, and their children's fortunes and destinies.

My uncle Ted was a prisoner of war during World War II, surviving seven years or so of captivity under the British, in India. Yes, he was an Italian soldier fighting in North Africa, captured and taken to India as a prisoner until the end of the war.  Had he been captured by the Russians or the Germans, he might not have survived captivity.   He learned English and learned to paint, enough English to help him emigrate to America as a student at the end of the war. He paved the way for me to come to America as well.

Somebody does something; and the results from that event are immesurable.

My mother used to say, "Every spit counts !" She meant, everything counts.

It was this portrait of my grandparents that pushed me to write my memoirs. I was fascinated by the tall woman and the crippled man I never met. Who were they? How did they influence my mother's philosophy? How did they influence me?  (Should you be interested read: Memoir )

We are our past.
We are our accumulated thoughts and achievements.
We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors.

Everything you do today is because somebody in your life influenced you.

I will cook minestrone today, the way my mother made it when she was barely big enough to stand with a big knife and chop up the vegetables.  I'll remember what she added, and when she added each ingredient. She would taste the food constantly, adding a pinch of this, a strand of that.

I grow rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil every year. Today's minestrone will have fresh basil leaves and a walnut size chunk of parmigiano simmering with the vegetables. These are not recipes as we have come to know them.These are cultural markers.

The past still lives in our hearts and souls.

37 comments:

#1Nana said...

"We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors." Lovely!

Terra said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your family members. I like the image of you growing herbs and cooking the minestrone in the old way. The story of your uncle Ted is amazing, how he survived 7 years as a POW, and it does show how every little action counts, in ways we can not foresee.

becky at abbeystyle said...

Excellent words honoring your past...tricked me into thinking about the shoulders I stand on :)

Diana said...

This is beautiful...your way of putting things is so rich. I am keenly aware that most of what I am today is because of who I came from. My dearest hope is to be a good springboard for my daughter.

Brian Miller said...

yes it does, and sometimes as i am doing something and i remember who taught it to me or who i am mimicing, i gives me a smile...

Cloudia said...

so very happy I "caught" this wise post!




Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

RNSANE said...

Rosaria, this was such a moving tribute to those who came before and shaped your life. Amazing Ted, that he could survive seven years of life in captivity, learn a new language and start over in the United States, another of the incredible people who make our country great.


At 65, I've done it! My poetry book - Life's Journey by Carmen Henesy - is out on Amazon!
( Poems about the things that have been important to me in my journey through life, some humorous, some sad, some that may have meaning to you as well )
http://www.amazon.com/Lifes-Journey-1-Carmen-Henesy/dp/1451547366/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274652997&sr=1-1

NitWit1 said...

Lovely tribute. This longing for ancestors led me to find my biological family, not that I did not have an lovely life in and adopted setting: I could not have asked for more.

But when I did find a biological setting many dots and dashes were connected that seemed to have been linked unknowingly on my part, but amazingly connected when I found them. Yet I am proud to have had a loving adoptive family.

decomondo said...

Dear lakeviewer, I like to hear your nice words and thoughts. I say, hear, because it seems to me to be almost able to hear you calling "A tavolaaa!" in your scented Mediterranean garden in Oregon...

Smitty said...

I love the emotional tone of your writing. I'll be coming back again to learn from you~

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Yes!!!!!!!!!! And isn't it a beautiful thing!!! What an incredible story of courage! You have so much to be proud of. I am so grateful for all of my heritage, too! What gifts we have been given! And I think it is absolutely wonderful that you are writing Memoirs...truly a lovely way to keep the heritage going...Loved this, Rosaria! ~Janine XO

Dimple said...

Wonderful, thoughtful post. I love hearing about other people's lives, thanks for sharing yours.

Hilary said...

We are connected to our past and our future. Great post.

GutsyWriter said...

Your Uncle's life sounds so interesting. have you interviewed him? I'm sure you have since you're writing a memoir. How is that coming along? I can so relate.

Amy said...

I really enjoyed this post - I'll bookmark your "memoir" to read later. I like your mother's quote on "spit" too. Your minestrone sounds delicious!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

"We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors," was a favorite line of mine in this thoughtful and well written piece.

shopgirl said...

Rosaria, I really like this post. It's so moving. I like how your posts have lessons to teach people.

Cooking is a big part of my life and it's wonderful that it can be shared with love.

I plan to write more posts on cooking in the future.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I am new here but I will continue to read what you are writing. This one makes me really think about those who came before me. Yes. we are a product of every event. Linda

A Cuban In London said...

What a fascinating post. We're our past, yet, we have to be careful not to be trapped by it. Look back, I say, and appreciate what was done before your time, whether for you or for the common good, and take it in your stride in the present to build the future. What a marvellous post. And you wove cooking into it. No wonder you read (and may I say liked, too?) 'The Inheritance of Loss'. :-)

Greetings from London.

Man of Roma said...

Rosaria, I wanted to say more but was exhausted by the discussion over at my blog in a langiage that is not my own, but I want to say you are a wonderful writer and thinker!

And, even if you live on the shores of the biggest ocean of them all – while I on those of a small lake called sea by mistake, the Med – there’s so many vibrations that unite us, plus I admire your character and big personality.

Giorgio

willow said...

I love "every spit counts".

decomondo said...

Dear lakeviewer, thank you, but you are the one that does a great job telling your memories; my stories are nothing but sketches...

Ann Best said...

Wonderfully stated. So wise. What a wonderful tribute to your family.

Robyn said...

i agree... the past and the present always meet in the heart.


Recognising our influences assists with creating desired change and keeping some things the same.

I don't really believe that anything is set in stone.

xx robyn

Villa-loredana said...

Hello dear, I have always a nice time at your home. Thanks for memoirs and lovely fotos. Loredana.

Relyn said...

At my grandfather's funeral the minister said, "Stand tall and live worthy of his memory." I've never forgotten that. I've never stopped trying to do exactly that. Standing tall, and on his shoulders, too.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

great post on family and love and how it all lives on in a circular pattern - beautifully done - and the image is wonderful!

LadyFi said...

How true! We do all stand on the shoulders of past generations...

Merisi said...

What a beautiful tribute to those who came before us!
Congratulations on your Post of the Day Award, yours is a splendid contribution, thank you!

Cricket said...

There is a Sufi story I heard somewhere. I forget the details, but it boils down to this: A man was granted one wish. He wished that he could go about doing good without knowing about it. God thought that was such a good idea that he granted that wish to everyone. And so it has been to this day.

Congratulations on the potw.

Daryl said...

What a wonderful post .. a tribute to your grandparents and parents ... reminded me of the way my grandmother cooked .. no recipes, just taste and touch ... congrats on the POTD mention!

Nancy said...

You always write in such a way that leaves me pondering and thinking. Always a good thing, I think.

Pauline said...

such a good reminder that we "do in remembrance of" more often than we think

Joanna Jenkins said...

You have a wonderful way with words. This is lovely.
Congrats on your POTW mention.
jj

Moannie said...

Beautiful Rosaria...just the dizzying thought of ancestry boggles my mind...back to the primeaval slime...I mean it is an unbroken line isn't it? And it hasn't stopped with us, and at least one of my children has children.
And all of those ancestors have lived and loved and killed and begat.

Leah J. Utas said...

Beautiful tribute with words, and with cooking.

ds said...

Beautiful. Every word counts. Thank you.