Lucia wrote to her husband Padre Stefano in Brooklyn letting him know
that their first grandchild had been
born; the baby had been named
Rosa after Giovanni’s mother. Padre Stefano wrote back that, although he
overjoyed at the news that he was now a grandfather, he was
really looking forward to becoming a husband again.
clearly that it was time for Mamma Lucia and their two younger
daughters, Lena and Margaret to join him
in Brooklyn. He said he was
eager to see his first grandchild.
Mamma Lucia showed her daughter and son-in-law the letter, Giovanni,
practical as usual, suggested that they
put first things first. My
baptism was coming up in two weeks; after that he would decide about a
move to Brooklyn.
They all nodded in agreement, but Mamma Lucia’s
heart was already on the train that would take her to her husband in
Brooklyn were she felt that she belonged. As for Giovanna,
she missed her father, her sister Anna and her brother
prayed that Giovanni would
decide to join the rest of her family in Brooklyn.
Giovanni, always appearing to be in control of every situation was
actually starting to feel the anxiety of making the
for his wife and baby. He wondered if he should take the risk of leaving
his job at the Department of
Sanitation. Now, he was able to pay his bills and support his
family. He dreaded the thought that if he moved to
didn’t find a job, he and his family would once again become a burden to
his father-in-law. He never
wanted to be dependent on anyone again
for his support.
simultaneously, they silenced their own private thoughts and started on
the plans of the baptism. Arrangements
were made with the church.
Every now and then, Mamma Lucia would put down the needle she was using
buttons on coats and take up her finer needle to work on my
Giovanni and Giovanna were looking forward to celebrating the
christening by inviting family and friends to dinner at
They would extend their kitchen table with borrowed bridge tables to
seat Giovanna, Giovanni, Mamma
Lucia, Lena, Margaret, their sponsor
Vito Spada and his wife, the kind neighbor and his wife, and Mamma
and his wife who just loved Italian food. Giovanna,
still counting on her fingers, happily looked heavenward and
“Thank God for kind neighbors.” She knew that they would come to the
rescue with the extra folding chairs that
Big Day arrived, cold but sunny. I was dressed in a pretty white long
dress. I was wrapped in a warm
white blanket and wore a crocheted
woolen bonnet on my head. I was being rocked gently in my mother’s arms.
young parents, Mamma Lucia, Lena and Margaret were sitting in the
first pew waiting for Mass to begin.
proper time, parents, babies, godmothers and godfathers congregated at
the baptismal fountain near the altar.
Vito Spada and his wife Sadie
felt honored to have been chosen to be Baby Rosa’s godparents, that is
tiny bundle in their arms screamed and cried louder than
any of the other babies when the priest suddenly
baptized us with a
heavy sprinkling of holy water! The solemnity of the Mass suddenly
mingled with the cries of all
the babies who seemed to be
celebrating in their own way. Mass ended. Congratulations were in order;
families and godparents walked out of the church
congratulating one another.
Giovanni, who considered himself a borderline agnostic, smiled to
himself as he remembered his grandfather sadly
unfortunately, some people have been inside a church on only three
occasions: when they are hatched,
matched, and dispatched. He
decided that he must become a more spiritual man for his wife Giovanna
precious Baby Rosa.