Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I didn't understand when I was a kid that Dad called his grandfather Nonno because it is the Italian word for that family member.  I thought he was saying "No-No," and I just assumed his grandfather had earned that nickname by always telling his grandchildren "No" to this and "No" to that.  It is so funny how children come up with their own explanations for things.  Dad remembers his dear Nonno as a quiet man who loved his family, his garden, his grape arbors, his walks in the woods, his honey bees, and all the animals on his and my great-grandmother's small property.  They had goats, cows, horses, rabbits, ducks, and I don't remember what-else.  I remember Great-Grandma, I remember the house and yard and apple tree and back porch and part of the barn, and I still vaguely remember the rabbits--I have a vague memory of being held up by someone so I could reach into their wired hutch--but Dad's Nonno died three years before I was born. 

Nonno had been an Italian Prisoner of War during WWI, and I never think of him without remembering family lore that this man who had loved to hunt from the time he was a child could never touch a gun again after his time in the army.  His wartime experiences left him both hard-of-hearing and gun-shy.  He was shaken by loud noises in general as a result of his service, which makes the few photos I have of him--Nonno and Great-Grandma outside their barn with one of their horses, Nonno and Great-Grandma sitting together in the kitchen, Nonno with the rest of the family at Christmas dinner, Nonno and Dad together outside--all the more poignant to me.  There is some satisfaction in seeing that although most of this man's life was not what anyone would consider easy, he enjoyed years of needed peace and of good company--company who would speak as loudly as necessary, in English and Italian--and simple meals and vegetable gardens and playful goats and grandchildren.  Veterans Day is an American holiday, and Nonno was an Italian service member, but I think of him on this day every year, and his story, with its silences both inflicted and restorative, reminds me of the sacrifices made by so many.


Lisa said...

Armistice Day is celebrated by Europe too, Val, isn't it? What an Italian-looking man! Love the photos. Sounds like he had a good life, post-war.

Val said...

I thought if I didn't mention that, Lisa, I'd receive a number of "This is nice, but he was an Italian service member"-type comments, so I just tried to ward them off that way. :)

I think he did have a good life. Difficult in some ways, of course, but good. 'Filled with love, certainly.

Teresa Schubert said...

How wonderful that your family has kept his memory alive for you to know about him, and how especially wonderful that you still celebrate his life!
sugar, spice and whatever's nice

Val said...

Thank you, Teresa, and yes, we're big on family stories. ♥

Nellie said...

What a blessing to have those stories of your family retold so you have that memory of your ancestors! xo

racheld said...

What a wonderful family story!! These are the ones which are handed down and down, with all the wonderful remembrance and love we can bring to them.

I also could not resist, as I scrolled down to "follow," the long list of posts in your sidebar, and of course, Grandma's Fudge captivated me immediately. We Grandmas seem have a "hand' for certain things, and your Grandma and I both got the FUDGE gene. Can't sew or paint or sing, but I CAN cook, and one of the best items is fudge. (with a tall can of PET and EIGHT minutes cooking by the clock).

I loved all of this, and especially the name and the slightly-worn and well-loved quilt patches on your line. What a clever juxtaposition of title, picture and entendre, I think.

So glad to have you drop in at LAWN TEA today, and thank you so much for the kind words.


Thistle Cove Farm said...

What a lovely post and memories, Val. I feel so sad for folks who don't have such memories and family. It's those memories and family who make us who we are and know from whence we came.

Tabor said...

Oddly enough I told my daughter that I wanted the children to call me nonna and I guess it sound too much like "no" so the first one started calling me "neena" and that has become my name for my grandchildren!

Val said...

Nellie, Rachel, Sandra, and Tabor: Thank you all. Yes, yes, yes. ♥

And Tabor, how funny about your name. Neena--I love that. :)