Every August, we would gather to celebrate Nonna’s birthday. Through my eyes, as a child, it was a day that was greeted with the same anticipation as Christmas morning. With their Italian upbringing, family and time with family, was priceless to my father, his five sisters and of course Nonna.
This August event was an all day affair. We began to gather at Aunt Carol and Uncle Bob’s around 10. The mid morning arrival called for malasadas from the Portguese bakery thanks to Aunt Doris. By 11:00, many had gathered and it was time for the annual family softball game. People piled in the back bed of my Dad’s red truck and off we went to a nearby school field. Returning, the hot and sticky hit the pool. The older crowd, that had held down the fort, welcomed us back and heard the stories from the field. My Dad and Uncle Bob manned the grills and fire pit serving up steaks, burgers, dogs, lobsters for fifty. As the sun would begin to set, we’d gather round Nonna, every last one of us, to sing Happy Birthday. She’d sit there and grin ear to ear and clap her pudgy, petite hands at the wonder of her family. Chlorine tired eyes with satisfied exhaustion settled in on the ride home for years.
Today, we celebrated my Aunt Carol and Uncle Bob’s 50th wedding anniversary. We celebrated over Zoom. I logged on to see my aunt and uncle dressed in matching shirts announcing “50th Anniversary in Quarantine”. When asked how she’s remained married to Uncle Bob all these years, Aunt Carol, reached over, rubbed Uncle Bob’s back and said “He doesn’t listen to a word I say but he always says yes.” Uncle Bob’s answer “patience, and yes, you have to say yes, yes, yes dear.” I laughed as we listened to stories of their meeting and courtship. I laughed and listened and looked. I kept looking at their backdrop.
There behind Aunt Carol and Uncle Bob was an image that brought me back to the year we made the t-shirts for Nonna’s party. So proud of the family we were, we had t-shirts made in red, green, and white. The image honored Nonna and her journey to America while celebrating all of us that came after. I was blessed to be loved by all and today I was able to send a little love back to Aunt Carol and Uncle Bob.