My First Bouquet
Giovanni was at the hospital every evening, eagerly waiting to take his
wife and baby back
home with him. The friendly nurses smiled at
Giovanni knowingly. They had heard how he had
managed to become the
first father-to-be allowed in the delivery room. Giovanni sheepishly
his wife that he was sure he saw a few doctors quickly turn a
corner when they saw him coming
down the hall. She smiled, rolled
her eyes and said she wasn’t a bit surprised.
Giovanni, Giovanna, and Baby Rosa, were picked up at the hospital by
their kind neighbor. As
they left, a chorus of voices bid them
farewell with “ciao, arrivederci”, words the nurses had learned
Giovanna. A few doctors waved and silently hoped she would not become
pregnant again too soon.
Returning to their humble home with their infant baby girl was an
for my young parents. Pappa was twenty three
years old, Mamma twenty. They placed me, oh
so tenderly I’m sure,
into the little white wicker basinet which Mamma Lucia had lovingly
with white ruffled netting, covered with pink satin roses
and flowing ribbons.
kitchen table there stood a lovely glass vase-from Woolworth’s-filled
with freshly cut red
roses from the back yard. Giovanni, always the
romanticist, embraced Giovanna and said the
roses were for the two
girls he loved best in the world. I was fast asleep and wasn’t aware
had just received my very first bouquet of flowers.
Giovanni also had a practical nature and surprised his wife with a
basket filled with luscious fruit.
Two paring knives and two plates
quickly appeared. The young couple peeled away and with
dug into the fruit, not forgetting to count their blessing between
bites. When they
finished, they went to look
at their tiny “bundle from heaven.” This led to a discussion of
baptism that would occur in two weeks. During this time, as was
the custom Baby Rosa would
not be taken out of the house.
realized that in America, “the melting pot of the world,” they would be
faced with many
customs and traditions different from their own.
They were not familiar with the word “parenting.”
In Sicily there
was very little change from one generation to the next in the way that
were raised. Families were closely knit, mothers stayed at
home, peer groups consisted of
siblings, cousins and neighbors with
whom they had grown up since infancy. Now Baby
Rosa would grow up
surrounded by people they hardly knew. Their protective instincts were
coming to the surface. The new parents had challenges to face, but I
was trying to sleep! I
must have heard them attempting to shape the
future of their 6 lb. 12 oz. baby girl and worrying
‘culture clash,’ I let out a loud and lusty cry.
new parents took turns holding their newborn in their arms. This was the
start of the
feeding, bathing, and diapering sessions. The nurturing
had started and soon, so would
their maturity. Once fully soothed
and pacified, I was gently lowered into my basinet and
my soft blanket, my parents hoping that I would fall asleep. Giovanni
some music would help. When he cleared his throat and
thrust out his chest, his wife knew
he was about to start singing
the booming “Triumphant March” from “Aida” as only Giovanni
sing it, fortunately! She quickly covered his mouth with her hand and
they sing a lullaby instead.
My gentle, loving parents lulled me to sleep, softly singing the same
lullaby they had heard
many times in their own infancy. We all slept
peacefully through the night.