We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Celebrating in Procida

Ciao tutti!

I've been wondering what would push me to write again. Not that I haven't been thinking about it. I have. Just had so many pressing things to handle during and after the move. The move itself was disastrous (that's another story) and the settling in took much longer than we anticipated (that's a few other stories).  Yesterday was a day for the record books- we received our new residence certificates and Carta d'Identita from the Comune.  Only took about a month longer than we had hoped to get those things accomplished (yes, yet another story there). I really thought that would be the push that got me to the keyboard yesterday.  That's a big milestone. We were officially new Procida residents, and we were ready to celebrate.

 However, at 5:29 pm yesterday, my life changed. Completely out of the blue, unexpectedly, but forever changed. 

And that's what has me writing today. Trust me, this is some big stuff.  I have always written most of my blog posts about my Venetian/Italian experiences so that I'd have a written record of them years later.  What occurred yesterday has got to be one of the most significant- and weirdest- events ever. I must write it so I don't ever forget. And I can't wait to share it with you. 

I, like many other Italian-Americans, always dreamed of researching the Italian family tree, maybe even tracking down some of the family who are still living.  When my mother came to America after the war, she came as a war bride.  I never had any Italian family living in America. Nor did I know any family back in Italy because my mother had been adopted when she was a very young child.  I knew of the adopting family, but I didn't know anything about her biological family. It's always been a curiosity, and a bit of a mystery. 

My mother has always been angry that she was put up for adoption, while an older brother was kept by her family.  She felt abandoned, rejected, and very hurt.  Her adoptive family was wonderful to her, but she never got over that hurt. It has haunted her for her entire life. And she has always refused to talk about her biological family.
When I moved to Italy, I sought out her adoptive family. These people opened their homes and their hearts to me. I have been welcomed and loved up like I was one of their own. But I have always wondered where the biological family might be. Was anyone still alive? Did anyone remember my mother?  Did anyone know what the circumstances were around my mothers adoption. My mother certainly wasn't talking, and the adoptive family, if they knew anything, weren't sharing anything either.  

On the few occasions I brought this subject up with my Italian family, they seemed hurt that I was curious about my biological family. I'd given some thought to going to the Comune in the city where my mother was born to try to search records.  Not wanting to hurt them in any way, I filed those thoughts away. Until recently.

I'm always reading accounts of other Italian-Americans who have successfully tracked down family members by searching at the local city hall or even on Facebook. I still really wanted to know who this biological family was.  I knew only the family last name, my nonno's (grandfather) first name, and the city where my mother was born. 

Yes, I did it. I searched on FB and found a few people in the city where my mom was born with the same name.  Most were young people, but one man was about my age.  I thought there might be a good chance he could be a cousin.  I sent him a FB message, asking if he knew anyone who might have information about my grandfather and/or his family. That was in the middle of March.  I didn't get a response, and promptly forgot all about it. 

Yesterday, at 5:29pm,  a FB messenger window popped up on my computer screen with a message from this man.  He wrote, in Italian, "You have found your family. The man you are asking about was my grandfather."

It took a few seconds for that to sink in. Holy Shit. Holy shit. Holy Shit. Can this be for real? Then he told me his name. Giuliano.  He wrote, "My father named me after his sister Giuliana."  That's my mother. Oh, let the waterworks begin. How weird is this? 

Even though it took months for him to respond, it's bizarre it didn't take lots of searching to find the right person. One message sent, bingo! I have family!  

We had a grand conversation lasting a few hours. There is a ton of family information to cover and we only just scratched the surface. His father is the older brother my mother recalled. That would make him my uncle. For the first time in my life I finally knew his name- Giorgio. And got to see a photo of him!  His father never forgot his baby sister. Giuliano told me his father had wanted to find her his whole life. 

Plans have been discussed for meeting face to face soon. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers, and shared lots of "Holy cow, this is unbelievable" on my end and "Non ci credo!" on his side. I think we are both still pinching ourselves. And later last night he sent a WhatsApp message telling me he'd realized his father's dream.  Mine too!

Through the magic of the internet- thank you, Al Gore, and Facebook- big hugs to you too, Mark Zuckerberg, I found my real blood Italian relatives.  

Life is good. 

Yes, life is good. We are loving every day on this beautiful little island.  Each day we feel a little bit more like we are home. 

I want to send special thanks to all of you for keeping me in your thoughts. I appreciate all the messages and emails asking how the move was going and what we're up to. I needed the space to get through the transition. 

Has anyone else ever tracked down long lost family members? If you have, I'd love to hear how your search went.  As you can imagine, I'm still in disbelief! 

 Grazie mille from Procida!  


Sheryl Gwyther said...

Well, this has been the best thing I have read all day!! Congratualations, and I'm so happy for you, even though we've never met. Looking forward to seeing more posts about you meeting your new family, and more of Italia too, of course. (Keeping the dream alive for me down here in Australia ... for when I next visit.) :)

Unknown said...

Fantastic! I know how you feel. Researching my family history and finding living descendants has been a wonderful experience that gets me closer to my heritage. Also my mother was adopted so I know what an incredible journey this can be on its own. Complimenti!

Michelle said...

OMD! Carissima Karen. I'm so happy for you! If I was able I would be doing a happy dance for you.
I'll email you later.
This move was meant to be.
Abbracci e baci,

Rob C said...

Karen, that's great news, It's good to know you're both settling in too, I'm sorry we didn't get to see you at Easter, next time eh?


Unknown said...

What a wonderful experience for you! Thank you for sharing it with us. Every day the world gets a little smaller and we become a bit connected as humanity.

Jon said...

Love to hear from you again! Glad the universe forces or whatever just conveyed and found your Italian roots. Roots are basic and often taken for granted.
Good luck and may your life in Procida fulfills yor expectations. I recently visited Ischia and Procida on winter. I think it is a beautiful place, but maybe crowded in summer? Let us know, keep writing.

Kaye said...

Yay! WOW! I am so happy for you; family is so important and now you have the internet to help you record and REMEMBER! Keep us updated when you have time-you are in my prayers,Pink Lady! Baci! Ciao! Kaye James

Unknown said...

Great post, Karen. You are very fortunate to have made that connection. I've been trying to do the same thing, but have not had any success thus far on Facebook. Hope you are enjoying Procida!

Kaye said...

Hello, again! I've tried a few times to send a note(they must think I'm a robot! ;) You're last message is unbelievable...I read it aloud to my husband, laughing and excited-almost as much as you must be! Funny how we get these inclinations or messages(?) that make us re-direct our lives,isn't it strange! Someone is steering-it certainly isn't us! I hope you are enjoying your new place and having fun exploring...We are having an extremely hot summer so far-(I'm your "Pink Lady" fan from Winchester, Va.) Hope all is well, finally, and you've gotten to meet your new relatives! Ciao! Kaye James

Kaye said...

Congratulations! I am so happy for you to have been able to make this connection, to complete this circle. And I am going to miss your Venice adventures but I look forward to your next chapter! Do keep writing, it is so good to hear your voice again ��

Anonymous said...

I hope all is well with you and that you've connected with your family . I've loved following along on your Venetian adventure and I hope you continue to write of your new adventures , Thanks so much from Canada,

Kaye said...

Hello again(I hope) (this is the Winchester, Va. Dragon-boat lady); you have been crossing my mind so often-hope I can say "Hi, how are you doing? Hope you are well and exploring your new "digs!"