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.