38. Roots

“In 1948 after a long war and almost 10 years of absence, I went back to Gaeta, arrived at my home at 10 in the morning, changed into my shorts and just like the good old days, I went to the beach. I continued doing that until 1951 when I got married. It was only in the summer when you and your mother came along with me, that I developed the deepest desire to look at everything. The school where my mother taught, my Nautical Institute, the church I had my first communion, etc.”

Letter from my father, Louis Simeone, June 17, 1980

My father and a pal at Serapo Beach, Gaeta, 1940s

Now, seventy years later, when I go to Gaeta, I must see the same touchstones, although their meaning to me is second-hand. My father’s winter house,

Winter house

and his summer house a half-mile away (don’t ask–I still haven’t figured that one out.)

Summer house

The little church at the top of the stairs. The chapel that holds my grandmother, my great grandfather, my great aunt, and other members of my family.


I know it defies logic, but I feel he’s watching me, and is pleased.

Front row: my great-grandfather, toothless father and grandmother. Back row: cousin Tonino and great-aunt Clara

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