I am racing against the death of my parents. Father- 79, Parkinson’s. Mother- 81, Dementia. The three of us have forgiven me for years of being a lousy daughter. I was caught up in how I wanted to be loved the American way. I wanted sleep overs. School dances. Maybe even a boyfriend. My Italian parents said no to all of those things. When I did them anyway, a heavy hand awaited.

I spent years wanting to be American. Part of them meant being mad at my parents. Having one night hook ups. Drinking a little too much a little too often. I paid a heavy price. I’ll spare you the details.

Now all I want to do is be Italian. Learn the language more than just the Southern dialect I learned from my nonna. Re-connect with family members in Italy and Switzerland who message me on Facebook and What’s App weekly. I want to every story my dad has too tell about his life as a federal police officer. He guarded the Pope. Guarded a soccer stadium where Pele played. I want to hear anything my mother has to remember even if it’s bits and pieces spread over 4 or 5 days. I want to know it all.

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.