My dad’s mother’s family is from Naples, Italy. I do not remember my grandmother as she passed away when I was about three years old. Sadly, my dad lost both parents about seven days apart, in separate hospitals, and both from heart disease. As I grew up, I thought Grandma looked like Judy Garland. Sometimes I imagined they were one and the same. That’s the fantasy of a young girl’s mind.
My grandmother wrote a lot of poetry. I always felt I inherited my love for writing from her. She was a very strict Catholic so much of her writing centered around that. After my dad passed last year, her writings came to me. What a treasure.
When I was visiting my father in Italy, he and I went to a little off-the-beaten-path cafe to eat. It was tucked away in a home that was converted into a diner. Every piece of furnishing was probably from the ‘30’s and ‘40’s. While the food was delicious and the cafe beautifully preserved in time, my father and I had a falling out of sorts. It was an attack on my heart and one of the worst altercations between us, ever. And while I won’t go into detail, it was a reminder of the power behind words. You don’t need to be a writer to understand that power. You need only to be its recipient.
My trip was in June of 2012. It wasn’t until October 31st of that year when my father called me. He said he was sorry for what he said all those months ago in that cafe. I never knew until that call that he even realized what he had said. And although I don’t believe he fully understood though the deep crushing pain he caused me, he apologized and that had to be enough. Then he sent me something he had written. I had zero idea until then that he even wrote.
This is the one and only writing I have of his. Maybe Dad wasn’t like me in that I have to keep everything I write. I guess writing is carried through the generations through our bloodline. Or, maybe it’s through our heart line.
The pictures attached are the walkway up to my dad’s home. In the picture below, the second doorway on the left is/was the tailor’s shop. I do not know the date Dad wrote this. I only have the date he sent it to me. I hope you enjoy this writing as much as I do.
The Tailor of Casoli (CH) Italy
He sits by the door as there are no lights, no electricity or water for that matter. Scraps of material hang on the wall with faded pictures and newspaper clippings of the past. Bits of cloth scatter the wooden floor. Dust clings to the underside of his sewing machine and all along the thin belt that drives his foot operated apparatus. Next to the cluttered table, on the floor to his right is a green canister that contains bottled gas to operate the iron for pressing clothes.
His sewing machine is as close to the glass door as possible so he can see to work. When practical, the door is left open. He can only work on the days of full light so he arrives early and stays as long as the day allows. The hot late summer days are more productive. The winters are cold and short. When dark clouds come, he closes the shop.He glances up when he sees me pass by the doorway on my way down the 150 stairs or to the Gran Cafe del Borgo in the piazza del Populo or to the main piazza further down the 223 stairs from my home. “Buon Giorno”, he says. “Buon Giorno”, I repeat. Sometimes I visit with him and try to understand his Italian. Sometimes I actually can, a little anyway. Today we actually had a little conversation.
Renato is 75 years old and has been a tailor since his learning days as a child. I know very little about him except that he lives in Fara San Martino, the little town famous for De Cecco pasta, a few short miles from here. Other than his birthday, December 30th, I know nothing else. He is a friendly man. I would like to know more.
~ Dennis G. S.
For the most part, my dad and I lived on opposite ends of life’s spectrum. Hence, our strained relationship. But the similarities we did share are treasures to me. Our love of music, flea markets, the sea, Italy, fishing, holidays, family gatherings, and writing. Those are what keep me close to him…those special things shared…through our heart line. ♥️