What would possess a five foot, shy sixteen year old girl who speaks no English to get on a boat and go to the USA in 1914?
She wasn’t a political refugee and was not fleeing a war zone. She was escaping a controlling mother! Her family lived comfortably in a small town, her father; a tailor, her mother; a well educated woman, wrote and read letters for people. This gave her some power, as she didn’t hesitate to take charge and actually author the words of the letters that she was writing for others; writing not necessarily what was asked, this according to her daughter in law’s family in Sicily.
Maddalena left home with a plan to help her sister in law with her baby, but that was very short lived, because shortly after coming to America, she was working in a factory and meeting my grandfather. Her older brother, as her guardian, disapproved of my grandfather, saying that he was “no good.” But just as it happens today, his disapproval helped to fan the fires of love, and Tom and Maddalena were married, twice actually, the first marriage was a civil ceremony, to make their unborn child legitimate, the second, in the church.
Maddalena had a really tough life, she lost three of her six children, the first was stillborn, her next child, a son, died under the wheels of an automobile driven by a nun when he was six years old.
Maddalena was famous for her cooking, we were never disappointed at her table. Sometimes, in between meals, she’d call me over to the kitchen and share some amazing delicacy with me.
Maddalena was my namesake. If you want to read THAT story, go here.

note: the reference for this painting was taken from a photo of her at her daughter’s wedding shower.


One response to “Maddalena”

  1. Dear Mimi, thank you for sharing this story of your grandmother and also for the link to the earlier story. Your mom surely did have a lot of common sense and she also was courageous to stand up to your grandmother.
    By the way, the cat with whom you live–“Enza”–looks just like Ellie with whom I live. I think their fur coloring is called brindle. Peace.

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