Nana Raciti

Mi recordo.  I met Ray’s grandmother in the mid to late 80’s.  At the time she was probably already 80 something herself.  Ray took me “home to the faimily” for the first time.  As I look back on this I realize the courage and self assuarnce he must have had to do this.

My family had lived in America for generations, this was my first brush with a family that was so “recent.”  Ray had warned me that she could be “forward.”  I tthink perhaps that I misunderstood the term “forward” as I recall her first question was along the lines of “why should Raymond have you as a friend?”  Then she fed me.  She focused the conversation on me.  She wanted to know my aspirations, my goals, my status during the meal. 

Lunch takes a long time in some cultures, especially in the Sicilian one, Ray was on pins and needles I could see.  It was the 80’s, and I was his “friend.”  No one needed a diagram.  It was uncomfortable.  It was the time.

Then, as I was to learn, in the summer we move to the garden.  No, not a flower garden, but the most incredible field of vegetables that exist in any backyard in America. But it was the tomatoes we were after.  As we were picking them, packing them for our long car trip back to Ohio, I was the one left holding the bag.  Litterally.

“Li tratta come spazzatura.”  Or something like that.  “He treats them like they’re garbage,” as I was packing the tomatoes away.  Ray’s Nana said it, but it was his Aunt Josie that piled on.  I couldn’t understand a word, but I did unerstand the tone.  The tide has changed?  They saw me crack.  I thought I was doing good, and it wasn’t until years later I learned that good is never good enough.
Ray, his brother Dennis, and his cousins Manette, Rocky (you figure out which one) have told me that I was accepted in the family…I passed muster.  I suppose after 30 years you pass something.
Being here in Italy, I can see Nana’s face in every third woman I see.  I just wih she could see the care I use with the tomatoes now.

5 thoughts on “Nana Raciti

  1. You put a great picture in my mind.I can just hear the conversation. Even as a 3rd generation Sicilian I often felt as tho I did’t fit in. But as you know from Raymond when your loved,You know it. Wish I could be with you.

  2. You are a magician – how do you know how to fix this stuff, Randy? (Randy just made my Comment/Reply section return.)

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