Children can have some strong feelings about matters of little importance to adults. I sure did about my grandmother’s favorite lamp stand. There it was smack dab in the middle of our hallway- a sculpture of a man and woman whose fig leaves left nothing to the imagination. I can’t remember how many times I covered that work of art with scarves and other pieces of material I could find, and how many times of equal count, my persistent Noni undraped it. Often I could hear my mother and grandmother chuckle over my behavior, but it was not a matter to be laughed about in my mind.
I was a very serious child, most likely due to the absence of a father, siblings in my growing years and the heartbreak of the death of my 54 year old Poppy when I was just eight years old. He was my greatest admirer, my best friend and the only male from whom I was to know unconditional love. My Poppy had been a very strict parent to my mother, but not so with me. I was his heart’s song, loved better than the Italian bread that the two of us often traveled twenty miles to get. Oh for a bite of one of those scrumptious loaves and to see the enjoyment on my Poppy’s face once again.
How we all missed him and how very different our lives became after he was gone. Noni went to Europe for a long trip that year which left my mother and me in a home void of her lovely singing and cheerful presence. From the time I could remember, Noni sang Italian operas along with the famous opera singers on the radio and her phonograph records. Our house was filled with music and the scent of Italian cooking. I know my mother was glad when she returned and could eat something better than those grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches I made every day for us. I thought I was doing something wonderful for my mama who had to work so hard. She never let on that she was sick and tired of the stuff.
I think we all got a little sick and tired after Poppy’s death. I was often at the doctor’s office with strep throat and other ailments and Noni’s arthritic condition increased with pain. Our economic condition changed dramatically and we were forced to live in the basement apartment instead of the attractive upstairs quarters of our beautiful home with my mother and I having to share a room together as well as a bed. I remember her saying with a groan: “Move over Michele”, with me never budging an inch. Indeed it was my mother who was wishing for a room of her own, not me as you would suppose.
Our humble home and Noni’s lamp stand were not my only problems. My Noni’s Italian accent embarrassed me. I would keep a great distance away from my mother and grandmother when they spoke Italian in public. Oh foolish child! I refused to learn my ancestors’ beautiful language because I wanted to be like everyone else.
It was hard to be a child from a divorced family, for with it came a sense of shame and loneliness. How I wanted a father beside me like the other children had at all my school functions and other important events. I’ve borne the pain of that loss for many years having realized it’s a father who’s ordained to give the blessing to the child. Recently a dear friend had a vision of me as a little girl in a pale yellow, ruffled dress that had fancy white lace on it. My father was standing before me and I was on my knees crying: “I was just a little girl. I was just a child. These are my tears but where are yours?” Then the heavens opened up and the Lord was standing before me holding a dress in his hands. He said: “Put away childish things Michele. I have a dress for you.” It was a woman’s dress.
This vision says that none of us need to be hindered by the things we have experienced or the things we missed as children! “Weep no more children without blessing for a greater Blesser and blessing has come!”