I received an email from William Allegrezza that his Nonna, Mary, passed away at 96 this week.
Bill is a great friend, I always refer to him as my Uomo Di Fiducia or my man of trust.
One of the bonds I have with Bill is that we both have Nonna's and we are rooted in someway in Italianita' .
It is often a hackneyed thing to write about family. Very few writers or poets can do this well. But among Italians- be they Italians in Italia or Italians in the diaspora family and especially our matriarch's are central to our lives. I am convinced that this emphasis on Mama is very ancient.
Why is it that Latin nations have such a fixation on women- and yet they are macho cultures?
Why is it that Mary has chosen to appear in France, Italy, Spain and Mexico and her shrines are huge there but in northern Europe they prefer strong male images? I think it has something to do with the fact that we are all descendant's of female deities. It is not the warrior that feeds the Mediterranean sea with myths- it is the Goddesses Athena, Cybele, Artemis, Diana and Mary.
It is having the Goddess in our midst that creates the myth of the mother in the Italian and other Mediterranean mindset. So I grieve with Bill for his Nonna because I know that a woman of strength is unique and powerful and that a woman of strength who is the center of a family is something that our culture gave to the world from its inception.
The Image on this post is a photo I found on the internet of the view from the window of my family's hotel in Italy. It is the last image my Great Grandmother Lucia ever saw, it was the spot where my Nonna, Matilde who is 93, watched the men of Vestone being marched off to their deaths in Russia to fight for the Germans, it is the place where they also watched the arrival of the Americans and the murder of the collaborators in their midst and today it is a great place to have coffee or a glass of wine. When I think of Le Nonne I think about this spot- and I think about Bill's family and the pain of the loss of the central character in life's opera.