A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Go West Young Man

The other day the temperature in in Chicago was ONE!!! Granted, it was 1+, but it was still ONE! As one of my office mates said, why even bother measuring it if it's that low!! And yesterday my dad called to say it was snowing - huge flakes - and the wind was blowing so the snow was sticking to the sides of buildings, trees, etc. From his nursing home window, it looked beautiful. From the front seat of my brother's car, as he's trying to get his three kids to school, the "view" is mostly unprintable.

I, on the other hand, am watching my garden bloom!

At the end of this month, it will be the 20th anniversary of my move from Tucson to California. Definitely the longest I've ever lived in one place. I did live in Tucson for a total of 30 years, but that was with a couple of short moves thrown in the mix. My family was originally from Chicago - straight from Italy via Ellis Island to Chicago. Grandma (my great grandmother) and Papa Jim (my maternal grandfather) were the most "Italian" of the group - heavy accents, very traditional. Grandma had 16 kids with three husbands (three sets of twins in a row!!). Her youngest son, John, decided to venture out West to a place called Arizona. First one in the family to leave the Chicago nest. When he didn't return after several weeks, Grandma became worried and decided to go to Arizona tolook for him. When she got to Tucson, it reminded her so much of the village she came from in Italy that she didn't want to go back to Chicago. After another few weeks, Nana Gene (my grandmother) told Papa Jim to go to Arizona and bring her mother back!! So Papa Jim made the trek West.

Well, it turns out he was from the same village in Italy so he, too, decided to stay. And in 1954 my grandmother finally moved to Tucson to join her mother and husband. Eventually most of Grandma's children moved West - although only nine of the 16 survived to adulthood. But, of those nine, seven wound up either in Arizona or even further west in Southern California.

Growing up in Tucson, I always felt so short-changed because we didn't have four real seasons - okay we did have one week of Spring in March, but never had a White Christmas. My parents would love to call their relatives in Chicago on Christmas Day and say, "Yeah, we're sitting outside in short-sleeved shirts." That would make me sad - singing Jingle Bells in 80 degrees just never worked for me!

But now, when I talk with my dad and brother and hear their stories about their Midwest winters, I figure maybe Grandma knew what she was doing blazing the trail for all of us.

Grazie, Grandma!


Arlene said...

16 kids???? Oh my! How sad that only 9 made it to adults :-( I love reading your tales!

Happy California anniversary :-)

Cathy said...

Happy Californiaversary!

I for one, am glad you're here. :-) A big Grazie Grandma from me too!

Jenni said...

I love that they just stayed in AZ, without informing the rest of the family. So typical (especially for Great-Great-Grandma).