111. Mother’s Day

I never knew any of my maternal forebears before my mother. But I am lucky to have photographs of five generations of women in my family tree.

Here’s one of my great-grandmother, a few years after immigrating to Chicago from Trivigno, a hilltop village in Basilicata. My grandmother is on the left; she went on to give birth to twelve children, eleven of whom survived. She was loved by all for her warmth and generosity, and renowned for her cooking. Everyone was welcome at her table.

On my father’s side, my grandmother raised two sons alone in Gaeta, Italy, while working as the town’s elementary school teacher. My somewhat eccentric grandfather had flown the coop for America, basically living there ever after, probably to the relief of all concerned. I inherited her name, Angela Simeone, and her nose.

My grandmother Angela Simeone with my father (in white), her nephew, and her other son, Pat.

My own mother was loving and kind and smart, but also tough as can be, even well into her nineties, when she was still living alone in her house and driving (!). As a young woman in the 1940s, she worked as a nurse at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, bearing subzero temperatures alone on the El platform past midnight when her night shift was over. She was up for anything, willing to hop on a plane at age 93 for a family trip to Paris. If there was work to be done, no matter how unpleasant, she rolled up her sleeves and did it, no complaints. If someone needed her, especially in her family, she was there. No bellyaching, just there, no matter how long she was needed or how hard the task.

My mother in front of our house in Somerset, MA, where she lived alone after my father died until age 93

I am in awe of the strength and character of the women in my family tree, and hope that we who come after can begin to live up to it.

My mother with Lizy, her first granddaughter
With my daughter Maria at Horseneck Beach, at age 90 or so.

3 thoughts on “111. Mother’s Day

  1. Wonderful photos and descriptions of your maternal ancestors, Gigi. And your right, you share both your grandmother Angelina’s name and nose! And it was great to see the photo of Lizy, you and your mother as well.


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