I am the product of two marvelous amazing mothers. I probably have had more maternal care through my life (a marvelous piano teacher and friend, a wonderful 4th grade teacher, various mentors and confidants).
But who I am, at my core, I credit to two particular women–my biological, and my adoptive, mothers.
Speranza birthed me, long ago in Sardinia. I never knew anything about her until the past ten years (which is a drop in the bucket of my life, considering I have sons older than that). What I speculated about my birth-mother, ages ago in my childhood dreams, is now irrelevant. When I was very young I thought perhaps I was descended from an ancient line of royalty. Yes, such are the dreams of a child that always read way too much fiction. When I was a bit older, I was realistic enough to consider that my birth-mother had to give me up for whatever reason. Finally, I learned, to my utter delight, that Speranza wanted her children (six of us in total as it turned out, and I was the second youngest) to thrive and succeed. All but one of us were unacknowledged by a father figure. All of us were acknowledged and baptized in the town’s church, and all were accepted completely by the entire population–something amazing in a profoundly Catholic community. I am left amazed and humbled that this woman was strong and independent enough to bring children into a world and see us do well. My one regret is that I learned about Speranza, and visited the town of my birth, too late to actually meet her in this life.
Eleanor (and her husband Jerry) adopted me and and one older sister. We always knew we came from Italy, and we were encouraged to aspire and achieve whatever we wished. As a first-generation American-Italian, Eleanor has never believed that women should stay at home–she always has taught us to think for ourselves, and be strong, active, accomplished, and to let nothing stop us. Eleanor is an inspiration. If something needs or wants doing-whether it be gardening, sewing, painting, any chore at all, do it now. Don’t wait. Speak up and stand up for yourself, because you are able to depend on yourself. These are things I know I have absorbed from Eleanor, even if I don’t always implement them.
I don’t always think of my mothers–sometimes I probably am vexed too much about this or that little thing–as all children probably get about a parent’s ways. But in my heart of hearts and deep into the soul of my bones, I am utterly humbled and grateful that my life has been so brilliantly shaped and energized by these two women.
My mothers. I celebrate you both, kiss your feet and hands, and hope that in some small and large ways, I am as fine an ancestor in my own turn as you are both for me.
May you always soar and sing with the gods and angels.