Blessings of Easter

April 22, 2011 at 02:58 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Italy, Spiritual Walk | Leave a comment
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This picture hangs on the hallway wall of my sister-in-law’s home. It is a depiction of a wonderful wood carved statue that resides in Tarquinia. Each Easter the town’s people and those from surrounding areas crowd into the old streets to herald the procession of this statue being carried up and down and around the steep cobblestone streets in adoration of the Risen Christ.

Town officials, the carabinieri, and townsfolk alike are not ashamed to show their praise for Him, none of the politically correctness scenarios hold them back. Some of the story of the statue is lost to me in translation but the story basically is that the town commissioned this beautiful statue of the Risen and Triumphant Christ. When completed, the statue was so magnificent that no one wanted the artist to ever again create such a masterpiece for anyone else. Here the story of the beauty of Easter is lost to me – the town blinded the artist so he was unable to see to create anything else! No one is sure how much legend and myth is mingled with fact in this story but one fact is for sure. The statue is magnificent and the town is devoted to it.





I don’t mean to sound as if I find this silly or foolish in any way. Rather I find it a testament to the townsfolk that in spite of a less than Christian-like beginning to the acquisition of the statue, they stand proudly and in joy and in sorrow for all that it means to them to celebrate Easter. In the midst of this there is not a carnival or other foolish trappings of a street party going on. The complete festival is a parade to showcase this staute, a reminder to the faithful of the true meaning of Easter. They have not forgotten but instead choose to honor Him openly joyously for al the world to see and partake with them. What inspires me even more is the total joy they worship with – not of fear or habit or sorrow – but complete unabashed joy at the Spirit of the Day – they rejoice in the Risen Christ and all that His Triumph signifies for all men. They have celebrated year after year for a century or more now, in good times and bad, war and peace, economic upturns and depressions, in feast and famine. What has happened to us here in a land that has been so mightily blessed, that we have lost that joy, that zeal? May our hearts return once again to that place of joy in Him as give thanks and praise for His Triumphant Resurrection.



Furry Friends Friday February 27, 2010

February 27, 2010 at 04:04 | Posted in Amore di Italia, Carnival of Genealogy, Fun Reminders of Italy, Furry Friends Friday, memories | Leave a comment
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One of those great fun days in Italy way back in 1977
We played with the pigeons near the Duoma di Milano for the better part of an hour feeding them corn we bought from the lady selling to all the tourists!

1977 Milano in the Piazzo

Advent Calendar Grab Bag December 9th

December 9, 2009 at 10:13 | Posted in Advent Calendar, Carnival of Genealogy, memories, Spiritual Walk | 3 Comments
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We had one Christmas that for our family will always be a special one for our family. It was 1984 and I was ill that year. I was thrilled when we found I was expecting our third child. We wanted a big family. I loved being pregnant and loved having children. I knew from the time I was a young child that I wanted to be a wife and a mother. Every decision in my life revolved around being a mother. But then only a month pregnant, we were handed devastating news. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I fit none of the criteria for someone at risk but there it was – cancer. The doctors immediately wanted me to start medical treatment which would include an abortion. The emotions rollercoaster I was facing was amplified of course by hormones. One thing I was sure of though was that I could not have an abortion. For me this was not an option. I knew that God would not honor a covenant of life with me if I did not honor one with Him. I offer no political discourse or condemnation of others who choose differently, only that this was true for me. The doctors here in Florida were not happy with my decision.

That summer we drove back to my hometown in Connecticut and I visited the ob-gyn group who has delivered our first son and talked. As they listened, they offered support and love. If I were still living there, they would have had no problem with seeing me through this decision. They actually agreed with my decision. They felt much of the treatment could wait until after delivery. They did want me to have a procedure done while pregnant to remove as much of the cancer as possible but it did carry a risk of miscarriage so it was important to be at a place where I could stay and maintain bed rest, not travel. We returned to Florida and I began the hunt for a doctor. A girlfriend found one in Jacksonville where she lived who would accept me for treatment. We met and my husband and I knew he was a great fit for us. He felt the risk was great but he was willing to do everything he could medically to help me! And so I moved myself to Jacksonville with my girlfriend’s family. The plan was for my mother and my husband to care of my two young sons back at home. The surgery went better than expected, buying me time to not need further chemo treatment during pregnancy. There were many special incidents while I was in the hospital that proved to me that God was in control but those will be saved for another post another day. This post is about Christmas.

I returned home after thirty days and spent the next few months in prayer and on bed rest. I trusted the Lord that no matter what was to happen; it was all part of His Plan. The evening of December 23rd, I suddenly began to experience back pains that I was sure were labor even though Daniel was not quite due for another couple weeks. By the time I arrived at the hospital, I knew he was not waiting! We brought along a cassette player and had soft hymns of praise playing softly in the birthing room. A short one hour and twelve minutes later Daniel arrived! We were blessed with our third son, healthy and perfect in spite of all I had been through. The next morning was December 24th, Christmas Eve. When we left the hospital, Daniel was slipped inside a huge Christmas stocking, a gift from the hospital Pink Ladies!

I would less than 2 years later have another son even though doctors told me it would not be possible to get pregnant again. And I would again face another bout of cancer within that year after Vinny being born more serious than this occurrence. I would also experience God’s blessings through my cancer and I would be healed in spite of doctors’ predictions of impending death. But it was this Christmas that we realized God’s gift to us as our son was born. He was indeed the most precious gift my husband and I could ever wish for — and that was a very special Christmas indeed!

Monday Madness – La Befana

November 23, 2009 at 15:18 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, Fun Reminders of Italy, Italy, Madness Monday, memories, Spiritual Walk | 4 Comments
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It may seem a bit early to many but for me it is typical. It is the week of Thanksgiving – and while I am thinking of all the blessings in my life in anticipation of Thursday, I am also thinking about Christmas. Like most Christians, I realize I am blessed most because of God’s gift of His Son – the Babe who was born Christmas morn!

So now you ask what this possibly has to do with Monday Madness or La Befana. Well, to be honest, I am feeling a lot like La Befana this year, more than ever as a matter of fact! La Befana is the Italian version of Santa Claus – although children also know Babo Natale. The Italian children all anxiously await the visit of La Befana. La Befana was an older woman who spent her life cleaning and cooking with her broom not far away from her grasp. Finally came the evening that 3 Wise Men stopped at her door. Greeting them with her broom in hand, she refused to go with them on their search for the Babe. After all she had cleaning and sweeping to do! Suddenly a few moments after they left, she realized what she had been asked. They were searching for the Baby Jesus! How could sweeping possibly be more important than that?! She ran after them, fast as she was able. Suddenly her broom took her aloft and she flew over rooftops searching to no avail. So now year after year she flies out again in search leaving small gifts in children’s stockings in hopes she finds the Babe!

Monday Madness? Yes indeed. See, it is holiday time and I am in full meltdown mode already. I am the world’s best list maker. I think I’ve mentioned before how writing lists helps me to calm through organization. Seeing it in writing means I can manage in smaller bites, crossing off as I go along. So here I am. List Time. The Thanksgiving menu has been rewritten at least three times and I have no idea why. It never varies from year to year. I suspect that is the problem. I really REALLY want to add something new. This year we decided to eliminate one item. I KNOW that will be a mistake that we will hear about for years to come – 2009 was the Thanksgiving WITHOUT lasagna. There ARE two turkeys and a ham though! Course there’s also half the friend’s list to feed! Why should I feel so frazzled, already worrying about decorating for Christmas? It is family tradition here in the Di Crocco household: the Saturday after Thanksgiving is DECORATE DAY! Out come boxes and boxes of decorations. Everything is unwrapped from the tissue paper and Bubblewrap™, lovingly placed out to think about Christmases past and people associated with each decoration. So many were from my grandmother and mother or from special friends. Every year meant a new ornament for each child, dated and signed with their name.

But back to Monday Madness. This year I am thinking more in terms of how blessed we are as a family. We have had our share of tragedies and sorrows along with the joy. We have family members out of work and struggling. Bills go up while paychecks remain static. Yet, I do have a job. It is one that gives me pride. It’s not one that pays enough to cover what I want covered but I am so much more blessed than others. In the midst of all the holiday frenzy and complaining about how much I have to do without enough time or money, I suddenly am forced to stop. Have I become lost like La Befana? Has sweeping the cobwebs become more important than remembering what the upcoming season is really about and what is really important? This year I want Monday Madness to settle to Calm, Peace, and Tranquility. Not just for me but for everyone. If I must rush from place to place, task to task. Let it be to share the Gift I have been blessed with. Not just to witness of my personal spiritual walk by testifying verbally. Rather, let me share my faith and my values by my deeds, my actions, my sense of peace, by love. Let me show love instead of, in spite of, and in the very face of hatred. Let me now unlike La Befana be willing and able to drop my broom.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Memories

November 20, 2009 at 03:51 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Treasure Chest Thursday | Leave a comment
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Thursday is always Treasure Chest Day for Carnival of Genealogy fans. This Thursday, November 19th, was bittersweet for me. My own father was born on November 19th – he’s been gone since 1983 and I still miss him as if it were this year! He died way too young with no warning for any of us. None of us had a chance to say goodbye because it was so unexpected. I was blessed in that we spoke about twenty minutes earlier – and to my everlasting horror/macabre sense of humor, our last conversation including mentioning death. He was going to pick up his grandson and go to Dunkin Donuts and then home so they could ‘supervise’ a construction crew together. I laughingly told my dear father, “Oh Dad! Some day I am going to bury you with Dunkin Donuts! They sure are your favorites!” Twenty minutes later I received that awful phone call. As we raced first to my parent’s home and then to the hospital chasing the ambulance, I replayed that conversation a million times over! A few moments later I would go in after he was gone to comb his hair and kiss him goodbye.

But somewhere in this great universe, God still watches over us and knows when we are hurting and He always gives us beauty from ashes. Our tears of sorrow are exchanged for tears of joy. For me that joy came as my beautiful granddaughter Juliana. She was born on her great grandpa’s birthday! Today was her fifth birthday. All five of my granddaughters are beautiful individuals and each gives us immense pleasure. But it is Juliana who helps me see joy and love when my mind courses over sad memories. On a day when I could easily revert to sadness, she is hope for the future! So this Thursday my treasure chest is overflowing with love, memories, and tears!

Furry Friends Friday

August 14, 2009 at 08:38 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, Furry Friends Friday, genealogy | Leave a comment
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It’s Furry Friends Friday – and these photos of my grandchildren with their best friends is prime example! How many of us remember a special friend like one of these? It’s a great topic to bring up with an elderly relative too as you research family stories – it is a subject tht will give your readers a real chance to “know” an elderly relative they may not ever have a chance to know in reality!
Best Friends

Best Friends

Where You Go, I Go

Where You Go, I Go

Doors That Should Be Opened

May 28, 2009 at 03:12 | Posted in Bits and Pieces | Leave a comment
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There are doors that cry out to be thrown open wide. Doors that should never have been shut, windows to the world that should be thrown open along with those doors. Doors that hide ignorance and shame and lies should be opened wide. Let daylight in, expose those dark hiding places of the souls. School doors should never be closed to anyone for any reason (excluding the obvious criminal reasons). Church doors shouldn’t be closed. Pretty sad that in today’s wild world, there is a need to lock a church door. A politician’s door should always be open to all their constituents. Not just say they’re open but really be open to everyone. I guess it goes almost without saying that a hospital door should never shut to anyone whether or not they can pay. But that’s a tough one if the hospital is a for-profit organization. Someone has to pay somehow but it would be wrong to deny a sick person help.

Borders. Now there’s some doors we shouldn’t close. They should be wide open but that’s not gonna happen. That nice poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty doesn’t mention closed doors but how do we keep them open to everyone if everyone isn’t nice? Sigh… this open door thing is getting tough. And borders to “rogue nations” or “bad guys”… how do we deal with them. Those doors should be open to inspection to be sure human rights are protected. We want charities to be able to get aid to those in need. Doors to vital records offices and maybe adoption agencies should be open. We want everyone to find their roots and they have a right to know who gave them life, right? But what about the parent’s privacy rights? Seems like some of these are becoming revolving doors?

Let’s get back to some simpler doors. Remember when everyone lived in great little towns where no one had to lock their doors? Those kind of doors need to be reopened! Closet doors need to be opened so kids can see there are no monsters waiting until they go to sleep! Library doors need to be open all the time so kids can go curl up with a great book and have the doors of the world opened to them! Doors to the heart need to be opened so we find compassion and love for our fellow man! I want the doors to closed minds to be opened so that pain and fear and prejudice go away when exposed to the daylight!

Can you think of any other doors that need to be locked or opened?

I have one. I want the windows and doors of heaven opened wide that the blessings are so numerous as they shower out on you and yours that your own doors and windows burst open so you can share it with everyone else too!

Sapore di Italia

March 31, 2009 at 16:59 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Fun Reminders of Italy, Itri, Italy | 1 Comment
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This weekend we were mightily blessed as the guests of special friends. (Yes, Annette – you are a very special friend) With a hectic work schedule for me, babysitting for grandbabies as needed, and planning for our vacation, free time is rather difficult and precious. So it was tremendous joy to be invited to dinner with our friends. As they are always fun to be with, we anticipated we would once again have an enjoyable evening. And of course, we did! Stepping into their home is to feel at home! Their lovely home is a slice of Italy right here in Florida – and their warm welcomes and fabulous meals are lovingly shared in true Italian style. Our host grilled the main course to perfection while we chatted around the table. That began a sumptuous dinner of tomato salad, fried zucchinis, roasted potatoes, steaks,, delightful wine, homemade stuffed breads (Annette I need your recipes!) that were a meal in themselves – a dinner to rival any four or five star restaurant! Desert was an assortment of Italian pasties with steaming cups of espresso and frosted glasses of limoncello!

But it is the good conversation, the exchange of stories, laughter, and family that makes this the beautiful home it is! Talk of home, family, and of course Itri, and again the evening turns into the wee hours! Especially as we plan our meeting together in about 3 weeks in Itri! Their trip will have them turn southward to visit family while ours will take us northward to Milano but it is the anticipation of time together in Itri that excites us all. For it is Itri that is always central in everything we know now – a beginning, a middle, and an end to our plans and hopes and dreams – it is home!

Thanks Annette and Frank for your hospitality and friendship – a wonderful example of why we so love Itri – GRAZIE MILLE – BUON VIAGGIO!

An Almost Tragedy

March 4, 2009 at 11:01 | Posted in genealogy | Leave a comment
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Last week I almost lost an ancestor – or at least the proof she was ours. It was a frustrating experience but it was “only” paper technically. She had been dead over 150 years and no one I know knew her while she was alive – matter of fact most did not know she personally existed ever. Sure, they knew someone was married to great great grandfather but no one ever thought about it before. Now they are more interested.

This week a friend called many times from out of state. We live several states apart and we see one another rarely. We originally met right here “online’ in the vast Internet world. It was (gasp…) over ten years ago already in the then so new chat room environment. And from ‘chatting’ and then sharing online IMs and online bible studies, we graduated to phone calls and then to the actual face to face meetings! Sure wouldn’t recommend that scenario to anyone anymore knowing what we all know about online predators now! But I digress – sorry! She phoned because her elderly and not healthy Mom had gotten on a bus to the other side of the US and did not arrive when and where expected to!

I could hear the pain in my friend’s voice and feel her panic. She tried calling bus station after bus station across the country seeking any snippet of information or at least some advice. It was little to none. All I could do from this distance was pray and try to offer words of comfort that seemed so empty. We could complain about the lack of responses and this could bring us to new causes to embrace such as authorities listening to a family sooner rather than later when even an adult is missing.

It brought back painful memories of a  visit from my mother in law many years ago. She was in her eighties traveling from Italy to Boston to visit family. She would spend 6 weeks in Maine with family there and then make a flight from Boston to Orlando to visit us. Family drove down to Boston to meet her flight. My husband was not at home – he had gone to help a friend a few miles from us for the afternoon when the phone call came. Mama had not gotten off the plane in Boston. A quick check with the ticketing agents showed she did not make the connecting flight from NYC. Family was near panic level. The first step was to gather up Val and get him back to the house to inform him – a not so pleasant task. And then everyone waited for me to spring into action. I called the airline and got nothing in response. Then I tried to phone the Airport Authority – seemed logical that police would search the airport for her. What a foolish assumption that was! So I began a series of phone calls to first the corporate headquarters of the airline – it was a weekend but I left voice messages with every executive’s answering service I could. And then I began calling every airline ticketing agent I could think of and beg them to contact agents in NY. About two hours into this the phone call came. A Delta agent saw an elderly woman sitting on a suitcase crying. She took the time to speak to her – the agent spoke Spanish and Mama spoke only Italian but they understood each other relatively well considering. Mama had our names and phone number – soon she was on the phone crying with her son in Florida! Then this agent got her on a flight to Boston to family – pretty remarkable considering her original tickets were not with Delta. The next morning we received several phone calls and apologies along with restitution from the original airline (no longer in business interestingly enough). Tragedy averted.  About the same length of time elapsed for my friend and she too finally heard welcome news. Mom had also missed a connection – or at least it ran behind what everyone thought. Another tragedy averted.

And then there was last night. I am babysitting – or actually dog-sitting – for vacationing elderly parents. Their dog is a huge beautiful black standard poodle. She is a love bug and a half with one bad bad habit that no one has broken her of. She sees an open door and bolts for it – and she is gone! Yesterday I went out for a bit. Upon returning home I saw my front door wide open in the cold weather here – not normal for us by any stretch! Seems the sons had gone out and not closed the door tightly and wind blew it open. Misty was gone! After frantic phone calls, all four sons appeared to help search. Poor husband drove back and forth up and down the streets as did the sons. We walked the neighborhood calling her name. No one was reporting her seen even. It was looking uglier by the moment. As I walked, I phoned my friend and asked for prayer – realizing it was not like her Mom missing but this was not going to be easy to tell my Mom about!  Misty is a vital integral part of my elderly parents’ lives. Most conversations always include something Misty did or was doing as we spoke. We’ve even been appointed her guardians if and when something happens to my parents. They did not want her going to an animal shelter naturally. After about three hours I was spent emotionally and physically. I collapsed on the couch in tears when one of my son’s friends came in the house calling me. “Mom – why is Misty running loose out here? She won’t come to me!”  Sure enough – there she was cowering behind a neighbor’s car. Once she saw it was me, she went crazy jumping and yelping and wagging her tail! Tragedy averted! Again!

But – this got me to thinking. What important places of honor our pets are to us! Did our ancestors also have favorite animals? The cattle baron must have had a favorite breeder. Or how about the poor farmer? What importance did his best milker hold for his family? Did the shepherd have a special dog that worked the herds with him? Or did grandma have a favorite cat that slept at her feet near the fire on cold wintry nights while she read or knitted? How many of us have added that special animal to the family genealogy? Even though not technically a relative, they were sure to be a part of the family and certainly played a role in family history. I am going to go back and devise special pages for these beloved creatures. I want to share a bit of their history with future generations in order to share a more complete family view. How about your families? Did they have some special members that deserve to be included?

Unexplained Urgency Part I

February 9, 2009 at 11:54 | Posted in ancestry, family research | Leave a comment
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I have been pulled in so many directions and left feeling like there is never enough “me time” and that leads to feeling so selfish that I want to be left alone to indulge in my personal passions. Working nights on twelve hour shifts 3 or 4 nights weekly means days spent sleeping. During my off days I work on all the normal family tasks of keeping a house running smoothly and get to relax with my personal projects only in small increments.

One of those selfish projects is scanning all the old photo albums from my own childhood, my children, and any other photos I find laying around. Most of our photos were labeled and stored in albums fortunately but I do have the usual unlabeled ones that take research to learn who those people were/are or where that one was taken and when. One copy of a photo is saved to a file of similar photos and each labeled properly and completely – then the file is both burned to CDs and saved to an external hard drive. CDs will be given to each son along with his own albums of the actual photos. (This cleans Mom’s house in the process too – ha ha) Hopefully it will mean the photos will last to hand to another generation someday and preserve that much more family history.

My dad used to be a part time photographer around WWII era. He would take portrait photographs of the children in the area, my mom would then hand tint them with color in the style of that era – using a delicate hand to bring the photos to life! He then sold those photos to the parents. By the 1950′s he no longer was selling his work but enjoyed the hobby and passed that love and skill on to his daughters.

My grandmother was the family photographer as I was growing up. Everywhere we went, she held her Brownie camera – an old box camera – in her hands taking photos, posing everyone at every chance. Family would be so frustrated as she made each stand for their picture to be taken – sometimes alone or sometimes in groups. They dreaded those photo sessions at every family gathering. I recently realized that is probably what caused me to avoid taking many photos of people. Mostly I have enjoyed photos of places and things, with people only incidently there. Or my real passion has been candid photos of the people taken without intruding, without posing. Instead I love taking photos of people being themselves. My request to our wedding photographer had been to take candids, not pose groups of people.

It is these bits and pieces – candids in time, or a flower, a tree, a mountain,or a landscape, or an object that for me evoke an emotion, a feeling, a memory. It is these photos that speak to my soul, that call to me to be taken. Yet, recently I have found another call to my spirit, a call to photograph faces, expressions, eyes. There is a need to save those snippets, to preserve the emotions shown there. Now it remains to be seen where this new urgency takes me.

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