I am the daughter of Italian immigrants and I grew up in a very Italian household. We spoke Italian. My Nonna and Nonno lived downstairs from us. We had a basement apartment with a full equipped kitchen. We had “sugo” (red tomato sauce) every Sunday at 2pm. We had basil, tomatoes and a fig tree growing in our yard. We were buying our pastries from Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken before Cake Boss was even out of diapers.
Years passed and my mother’s small family of 5 turned into a family of 26 with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My Nonna and Nonno are both alive and strong (ages 95 and 93) and yes, they still live downstairs from my parents. Their feet are firmly rooted here in the states, but their hearts and love are still back in Italy. When they were younger, they would travel home to see families and friends, but as they grew older, the trip back home was too physically demanding. It has been almost 20 years since my grandparents returned to Italy – well that is until yesterday……
In a living room in NJ huddled around a laptop sat my Grandmother and her extended family. Thousands of miles across the ocean in a living room in Bari, huddled around a laptop sat my Great-Uncle and his extended family.
Two laptops. Two families connected despite the vast distance between them and a brother and sister united after not having seen each other in over 20 years. The moment was powerful and exciting and tearful. My 93-year-old grandmother was able to look upon her 86-year-old baby brother and talk. Modern technology at it’s very very very best connected my grandparents in a way they thought was never possible.
At one point during the video call, my daughter and I had a moment to chat with my Great Uncle Cosmo. “Ciao Super Super Zio,” she said so excitedly. “I love you!”
You could see the tears well up in his eyes. My Zio Cosmo hasn’t seen me since I was 18 months old and I cannot begin to imagine how he must have felt seeing his Great, Great Niece.
On a Sunday afternoon in April, two families connected – laughed, shared – over two laptops, on two tables, on two different continents. Virtually, we shared in our family dinner of pasta and sugo. A Very Good Sunday indeed.