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Rose Masciello's Autobiography - Chapter Ten

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              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 told
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
from 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 unforgettable moment
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 trimmed
with white ruffled netting, covered with pink satin roses and flowing ribbons.

On the 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 that I
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
gusto they 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 my
baptism that would occur in two weeks. During this time, as was the custom Baby Rosa would
not be taken out of the house.

They 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 children
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
about the ‘culture clash,’ I let out a loud and lusty cry.

The 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
tucked under my soft blanket, my parents hoping that I would fall asleep. Giovanni felt that
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
could sing it, fortunately! She quickly covered his mouth with her hand and sweetly suggested
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.