This is my 599th blog post. And this is my post-birthday blog. I was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1961.
My mother was very big on telling each of my sisters and me our birth story every time our birthdays rolled around. I think each time she told the story of my birth, it became more colorful. I am told this skill of increased dramatization is called Literary License. My mother paid a high price for that license and she, the author of both me and my birth story, deserved every embellishment she thought up.
When mom was pregnant with me, she craved watermelon. She was a newly arrived immigrant in America. She and the family happened to settle in the Midwest, in Gary, Indiana, to be exact, and she couldn’t get over how delicious and refreshing the watermelon tasted! In fact, she couldn’t get enough of it. On some summer days, watermelon was the only thing she wanted to eat. Watermelon made her happy. In the days before air conditioning, watermelon from the ice box cooled my pregnant mother on hot humid Indiana summer days.
After work, my dad often stopped by the numerous farmer roadside stands to buy a great big watermelon to bring home to mom. This went on regularly during the summer months. On the days he came home with a big fat watermelon, he was a star, a hero bigger than the mythological heroes we read about. If he went to enough farmer roadside stands, he could find watermelon throughout the month of September. But come October, Ma’s cravings could not be met as easily. This was not good because, according to Sicilian old wives’ tales, pregnant women’s cravings must be met! It was bad to deny cravings. In fact, the child whose mother’s cravings are denied will come out always wanting this and that, never satisfied with life because basic cravings during pregnancy were not met! Ugh. In 1961, it was rare to have watermelon trucked in from California. Fruits were eaten in season. No one would dream of eating a strawberry at Christmas time, let alone a watermelon in late November! Sadly, my mother went without watermelon in the later stages, the last two months, of her pregnancy with me.
I was my mother’s sixth birth. Her first child was a boy. I never met him because he died shortly after birth. He was named after my paternal grandfather, Giovanni. After my brother died and before I was born, my mom gave birth to four more children, all girls: Onofria (Nora), Antonia (Toni), Giovanna (Jeanie), and Vincenza (Zina) My mother said her pregnancy with me felt different. She was convinced I would be a little boy, the longed-for replacement for the boy she lost 13 years earlier.
On the day of my birth, mom got up, waited for her sister-in-law, my Aunt Lily, to show up so they could prepare the turkey dinner together. Aunt Lily had been in the states since 1949, so she taught my mom how to stuff the turkey and do up all the trimmings for the feast. After putting the turkey in the oven, my mom calmly told my dad she was ready to go to the hospital to have the baby. Off to St. Mary’s Mercy Hospital they went (which is, coincidentally the same hospital where Michael Jackson was born three years earlier in 1958 and which is sadly an old abandoned building these days, complete with lights that still work).
My four sisters, Aunt Lily, and Uncle Sam were just sitting down to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal when my dad telephoned to announce my birth, the first American born to the family, the fifth daughter, whose mother was denied watermelon for the last two months of her pregnancy with me! My sisters told me how they danced around the table because they were so excited to have another sister.
I’m sure that if my sisters read this story they will have more embellishments, adding more dimension to my story.
Rick and I were in La Push, Washington, for my birthday and Thanksgiving day this year. Below are some photos from that lovely place. I believe it is one of the most beautiful beaches on the continental USA. Rick’s long-lived eccentric Grandma Glenda loved La Push and made her annual trek there, pulling an 18-foot silver Air Stream Trailer behind a canary-yellow Karmann Ghia. There she beachcombed and enjoyed talking to members of the Quileute Nation. She made this trip until she was well into her 90s! We stayed at the same place she stayed at year after year, the Quileute River Resort, and we love it there. It is a great place to celebrate one’s birthday!