Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Neighborhood Winemaker

Going through some old photos one stood out from the rest. It was a photo of mama and me having a glass of red wine. It brought back memories for me of her telling the story (many times) of her father making homemade wine down in their cellar. She would say she never loved the taste of wine back then but when we drank it, it brought back her memories of her father who she always missed. 

It became another ritual for us to drink a little red wine with her favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs! She'd go into detail of how my grandfather would go up and down the cellar stairs in Harlem carrying the bottles of his labor of love. She was very close to him because she was the baby of the family of thirteen and she even named me after him.

Even though Mama is gone, Douglass and I often remember Mama’s story of my grandfather making wine as we enjoy our spaghetti and meatball dinner with some red wine. We always toast Mama saying how we miss her and her stories. And I wish I could’ve met my grandfather, the neighborhood winemaker.

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Thursday, March 31, 2022

A Kiss is Just a Kiss

Since I recently moved, I was going through a few boxes of Mama’s that I kept and came across a bunch of greeting cards. Mama loved greeting cards but especially Valentine’s Day cards. After reading a few of them I started to realize how important they were to her and of the love she shared with my dad. Memories of the two of them flooded my mind and I began to remember their 40th Anniversary celebration party that I threw for them.

I planned a party for a few family members and friends at their favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant. Everyone was eating and drinking and joking, there was a lot of love in the air. When it came time to cut the cake and make a toast I wanted to take a photo to commemorate their landmark anniversary. I had to tell them to kiss each other, they laughed and of course did it. I remember it very well, it was one of the first times I saw them kiss in public!


Anniversaries are full of emotions in many ways, but I never really saw my parents kiss in public. I come from an Italian background jam-packed with emotions, sometimes too many or sometimes over the top. Oddly enough my parents never showed much public display of affection. I thought this wasn’t “normal” for an Italian couple. Nevertheless they had a very special yin and yang relationship. They were always in synch and really loved each other ever since I could remember. They laughed, they played cards, they entertained company serving fabulous food... but they never kissed in public.


Mama may not have always kissed my dad but she always loved to send greeting cards. It became more challenging as she got older. On Mama’s last Valentine's Day, I remember she was still able to write out a Valentines message to me. She couldn’t get a card so it was written on a leftover napkin she had in her purse. It was heartfelt and I hold it close to me until this day. It read “ Vini you’re great, love Mom”. 

I will always treasure that Valentine's "card" and when I made my parents kiss on their anniversary. Perhaps I was playing Cupid! 

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Read more about our journey with Mama in our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" on Amazon Books
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