I am on a veranda in Montecatini, Italy, thinking of my Pa, Pa. My Pa, Pa immigrated from Italy when he was 18 years old. He was born and raised in the District of Foggia, in the town of St. Agatha. My nephew, Chris did some research and found that Pa, Pa entered the U.S. from Boston; every one in the family believed that he entered from New York and immediately traveled to Chicago where his sister Florence lived. It is a point of regret that I took my parents as strictly parents, and never thought to ask questions about the full expanse of their lives.
What I do know about my Pa, Pa was, he was a quiet man, who loved to laugh, to talk Italian to his pisano's, from Chicago, who never complained, and above all, loved his family. Here is an example of his deep family love: Pa, Pa was a diabetic, and within the course of his disease he was diagnosed with angina and glaucoma. This was a devastating diagnose for him because he knew that he would be completely blind. Pa, Pa and I were alone in the hospital room, he looked at me and said, "This is the end of our family." He did not express fear, anger, self-pity nor did he begin to rant and rave, only the sadness of ending our family.
Don't get the wrong idea that every thing was the rosy hew of dawn, remember that the dawn chases darkness. I wrote a poem after Pa, Pa passed away, on June 10, at 66 years old:
Death comes to my Pa, Pa
My eyes were dry, I took his hand, warmth in a wasted man. I stroked his head, 'please Pa don"t be dead.'
We shared a family place, but how unfamiliar his face. A spectra, a t-shirted form speaking to me of sports. "Rocky Caliveto, hit another home run. He does it with strong wrists. Did you see that left-hook, like a slap from a lion's paw."
'Pa why didn't you talk to me the way you did my friends? Pa, did you love other women? Make mistakes when you were young? Pa what was growing up in Italy like?
'Damn your soul!' I threw his hand to his sunken chest. 'You left me without showing me what it is to be a man.'
My eyes were wet , when they took him away in the van.
I had pervious opportunities to visit Italy. In 1952, my Pa, Pa made plans to visit his family in Italy, and asked if I wanted to go. I was 9 years old, and had just "made" the Home Store team of the newly formed Roseland, Little League. Practice was to start two weeks before Pa, Pa was scheduled to leave. All the best ball-players in the neighborhood were on the various teams, and plus, to ware a hat with the capital letter "R" was high status. I said "No" to my Pa, Pa. If I would have had a clearer mind at the time, I would have said "Yes." Even now, 73 years later, I have difficulty setting the needs of others first, before my needs; maybe some of you can relate. Another opportunity that was lost came in the late 70's. I was preparing to travel to Italy: carried over a couple weeks of vacation time, saved about $5000. dollars, and started Italian speaking lessons. Than my travel plans were trashed when I decided to open up a Cross Country Ski business. Finally, at age 72, I arrived in my Pa, Pa's homeland, Italy.
Here is my second poem, I wrote about my Pa, Pa. It should reveal some wisdom I gained over the years.
Years to be a man
'Pa forgive me, I didn't understand. It took me 40 years to learn to be a man. I was blind, and listened only to my need. I could not hear over my emotional greed. Your love was stamped upon my chest; yet, I didn't accepted it believing it wasn't the best.
'Pa, Pa I am sorry; what manner of man have I become, to decline the precious gift you freely given. We Shared a family place, how selfish was my face.'
Bravo Pa, Pa