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Rose Masciello's Autobiography - Chapter Twelve

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                           Celebration of a Sanctification

Giovanni proudly strutted out of the church carrying me, his wife’s arm snuggled through his.
They arrived home and soon were joined by their jovial guests. The house was small and unpretentious,
but these well-wishers made themselves comfortable as they took their places at the table.

The celebration for Baby Rosa’s Sanctification was about to begin, but first I had to be settled into my
bassinet. Luckily, I was asleep before my head touched the pillow. Giovanni placed the bottles of red
wine on the improvised dining table that was covered with a lovely white linen tablecloth. Glasses
were filled, then raised in unison as the guests affectionately toasted the young couple and extended
their very best wishes. Giovanna and Giovanni were deeply grateful. Soon Mamma Lucia and her two
young daughters carried out platters of antipasto that consisted of, among other delicacies, mushrooms,
eggplant, mozzarella, salami, olives, pepperoncini and garlic bread.

The conversation at the table was lively, and the munching of food was even livelier. The guests took
turns telling riddles or funny stories. Their laughter suddenly mingled with their hand clapping
when Mamma Lucia, Giovanna, Lena and Margaret carried to the table bowls of salad, pans
of homemade lasagna then followed by more platters of meatballs, sausage and veal cutlets. The
guests’ hearty approval was music to the ears of Mamma Lucia who had taught her daughters
all she knew about Italian cooking.

The feasting continued and when the guests were just about satiated, espresso coffee was served
with a variety of pastries, including the delicious cannoli from Giovanni’s favorite pastry shop. With
a sense of well-being, they smacked their lips and sampled the different kinds of desserts.

Ordinarily, at this point they would have danced a “Tarantella”, but there wasn’t enough room for
that in this postage-stamp-sized room. Besides good food, music was another joy of life for these
fun-loving immigrants. The evening could not end without a few of the guests singing their favorite
songs.  My young aunts, Lena and Margaret, were shy, but with a little prodding they sang a duet
that they had learned in their music class at school. The guests, most of whom knew very few English
words, were impressed by the ten and eleven-year-old sisters singing in English. They applauded
and hugged the two young girls. Mamma Lucia looked at her daughters approvingly, while her
thoughts strayed to the day in the very near future when she would bring the girls to Brooklyn.
Padre Stefano would be so proud of them.

A few of the other guests took turns exercising their vocal chords. Giovanna did not have to be
urged to sing.  She had a truly beautiful alto voice and knew the words and melodies to all the
popular Neapolitan love songs. She was the songbird of the family.  Giovanni loved opera and
managed to sing a selection from one of his favorite operas, but of course he sang it in his own key.
The guests applauded him and teasingly suggested that he audition for a “roll” at the Metropolitan
Opera House. Giovanni was a good sport and laughed heartily at the joke.

At this point I added a few high notes of my own to the celebration. Giovanna attended to Baby Rosa’s
needs and then brought her out so that the relatives and friends could get another look at her
tiny two-week-old baby girl. With warm embraces Giovanna and Giovanni were congratulated
again and thanked for a truly lovely day as the guests bid them good-night.

When Giovanna and Giovanni closed the door after the last departing guest, they looked at each
other with the same thought. They were tired but happy.  The birth of Baby Rosa had helped them
achieve another milestone in their lives. They counted their blessings as they tucked me gently into
my bassinet.

Giovanna had only one disturbing thought; it was the letter that Padre Stefano had written to
Mamma Lucia.  Giovanni had left his whole family in Sicily to marry Giovanna and come to America.
Would he understand her need to be near her parents, sisters and brother? She prayed that their
next milestone would be a happy one.