Today was a painful Sunday afternoon. For no good reason I decided to finally convert an old videotape that my aunt sent me of my dad’s home movies. He abandoned us all when I was a toddler and passed away in the 1990s. Anyway, it was tough seeing him enjoying life with his second wife knowing at the same time my amazing mom was struggling to raise 4 boys on her own in a strange new land…she had to learn a new language and learn to drive and cleaned houses to make ends meet. I remember going to my own elementary school at night with my mom with a bunch of other neighborhood immigrants and thought it was so strange watching them all squeeze into our desks and butcher the english language that came so easy to me as a kid. I also recall sliding all over the backseat as my mom learned to drive in empty parking lots with her lady friends.
As for the home movies, I will admit that it was interesting to see all of my uncles when they were young men and in their prime. I also got to see more of my grandmother and grandfather who died when I was quite young. Everyone seemed to smoke and drink a lot in the 1960s, I guess my favorite show Mad Men wasn’t exaggerating after all!
It’s kind of pathetic that this man who left because he didn’t want to raise four kids spent a lot of time with a house full of kids (looks like my cousins) and he went overboard with Christmas decorations like I still do. Maybe he was trying to fill the void he felt? Who knows.
I’m glad I watched this because it only makes me love and appreciate my mother all the more. Her life story is worth telling. I wrote a play about her and our American dream called Ma’s Pizza. I might dust it off and see if I can do something with it.
I looked at some old photos of my mom and dad and it was bittersweet seeing how happy they were together. They were young and in love, full of hope and excitement over the future.
I was just getting over the initial anger and sadness when I watched my father in Disney World. I never knew he went there. It’s a place my brothers and I never could afford to go and here he was in Disney World. My blood boiled as I imagined what it would’ve meant to us if we could have gone as kids. Anyway, ironically, it’s my favorite place in the world now because I’ve been fortunate enough to take my family several times through the years and we’re planning to go for a fourth time soon.
Despite all of the things my three brothers and I didn’t get to experience, my mom still managed to make us feel like we had everything we ever needed. No matter how poor we might have been, we never went hungry. We always had a roof over our heads and our home was always full of love and laughter. I love my mom for that. I’ve tried to do the same with my family no matter how good or bad the economy and my career has been. We don’t let anything interfere with our joy for life and our love for each other.
Here’s Nonna with one of her many grandchildren. She loves seeing us struggle with our kids just like she did with us.
Here I am with my mini-me. Because of all the things my father did and didn’t do, I believe it’s made me a better dad. I’ve vowed to be the best father I can be. I Want them to look back at home movies and see me enjoying life with them instead of without them.