Ne di Venere Ne di Marte non si sposa ne si parte

(Neither marriage nor war will go away once you start)

La Buona Moglie fa il buon marito

(a good wife makes a good husband)

Pasquale & Concettina
60th Anniversary

T oday (March 23, 2018) marks the 60th anniversary of the day my mother and father married.  They call it the Diamond Anniversary because it is one – rare and two – one of the most beautiful but hardest materials  – a fitting description of what it takes to create a life together that spans 60 years.

Pasquale and Concettina married in Santo Stefano del Sole, Atripalda Italy on a beautiful spring day.  I love the photos of them on this day.  Their youth, love, and nervousness on starting out this new life together, is so evident on their faces.  The love on the faces of those around them spoke to love of family in small town southern Italy.

One of my favorite pictures is them during the procession after the wedding in the village church, as they walked down a dirt road, the demure, blushing bride dressed in white with all filing along behind them – like a scene from a Scorsese film – the hope and mandolins palpable with each step.

Life wasn’t easy then, and as immigrants a year later would not get easier for quite a while.  They came to a new country to give us, there children a better life.  Dad takes a great deal of pleasure in pointing out he came by plane while my mom was a ‘boat person’!  From Southern Italy to Southern British Columbia to the town of Trail… at first dad wondered if he had read the wrong brochure!

While Trail BC was a good place for a young Italian speaking couple – it was not at first what my dad expected.  Life as an immigrant with a young bride no money, no language, no prospects….  I love the story of his first job – he dug a grave – the couple of hours work was worth a couple of dollars at the time but led to him laid up for three days from strain!  He was too short and too light to get work at the smelter, the area’s main employer so he began a work life moving from position to position.  He ended his work career working as a janitor in the High School.  He was a hard-working guy and is rightfully proud of that fact.

Mom to my mind was a dressmaker, though I guess first and foremost she was mom.  She held a lot of jobs but I always picture her making dresses.  I look back on photos of myself as a kid and realize the suit I have on were the old dining room drapes.

My Mom and Dad have held onto Italy.  In some ways they are more Italian than those that live in Italy.  They eat only Italian, watch the Italian TV station religiously and raised us to be very proud Italian-Canadians. 

They raised a family of five, and now have over 10 grandchildren (counting by marriage).  Just like the photo of the day they married they are surrounded by people who love them.

I am one of these people who unconditionally love them both.  They have provided an excellent example of what life is meant to be – work, love, and family.  Sixty years is a testament to that work.  Dad found the right one and I followed his lead.  Wendy and I are very proud of the life we built for ourselves – and we are not even at the half way point of what they accomplished.

Like them we have raised our own beautiful children, of whom we are so proud.  They are so fortunate to have Nonna and Nonno in their lives.  The kids find in them, best friends, confidants and an unconditional love that can only come from a grandparent.  The role they fill in my son and daughter’s life is so incredibly important, it could never be filled by any other.

My kids share with me memories of wonderful days spent in the kitchen, Neaopolitan music blaring, Nonna screaming at Nonno to turn it down, while the polpette sizzle as the wonderful aroma of tomato sauce fills the air.  That is our shared image of FAMILY, and fills our hearts.  I think about how the image of growing up for nonna and nonno in Italy was probably different and is no longer their reality, they had to give it up for us – and yet not only I, but my kids have this wonderful image they gave us.  My sincere hope would be that one day when I am a nonno my grandchild might get to eat one of nonno’s famous meatballs and really complete the true circle of life!

Nonno always jokes he deserves a medal for staying with Nonna (though most would support a different take on that) and I agree they both deserve one!  They persevered! Through all life and loves challenges Pasquale and Concettina persevered like the final High C of Pavarotti signing Vincero (Nessun Dorma)– so is the continuing song of their life.

Thank you for taking the time to read this toast to my mom and dad.  But mostly Thank you Concettina and Pasquale, for my life, and for having such a profound effect on Wendy, Connie, and Roy.  To the mark you have made on all our lives –

Tanti Auguir! “’Cent’ Anni”

Oggi una pioggia di fiori

Domani sorrisi di bimbi

(Today on the day of your wedding there will be a shower of flowers

Tomorrow will appear with the smiles of many children)