Friday, February 24, 2012

What Two Oceans Cannot Divide

She was born on a family farm in a remote town in Calabria, Italy.

He lived on the farm next door.

From childhood into adulthood, they saw only each other, promises unspoken by word, but made by love.

Then war came, and with it, roving bands of soldiers, looking to impress young men.

And they found him. Took him away to fight a war he didn't want, didn't believe in. Whatever food the soldiers could steal, they did, leaving the families hungry. Only unharvested potatoes, still in the ground that the soldiers refused to unearth, were left.

Away they took him, but he promised to come back to her. And she promised to wait for him.

So she worked the farm, struggling with her family through those desperate times, wondering where he was, if he was still alive.

He fought in Africa until the Allies caught him. And made him a prisoner.

The war ended. Seeking a better life than the desolate farm, he journeyed to Canada, finding work in Chrysler  Automotive plant.

He didn't forget her, but there wasn't enough money to send for her. But he could marry her--by shortwave radio. While she stood in her white wedding dress on the arm of her brother in Italy, she spoke her vow of love till death. From Canada, he promised his love.

She waited. Two years. Then came the day there was enough money for a one way journey to her new world. Leaving behind the wedding gifts, and all she knew, knowing there was little chance she'd see her family again, she traversed the ocean, not in First Class, but freighter.

Soon there was a baby girl. Eighteen months later, a baby boy, their family complete. Five years of happiness.

She ran to the hospital. His last words spoke of his children.

Alone, she emigrated to the States where she cleaned houses, worked in hotel laundries, babysat other people's children to feed her own.

For 51 years she mourned her Tomasso, keeping her vow of no one but him till death.

On a quiet day, she rejoined him and renewed their vows of love forever.

This is the story of Gilda and Tomasso, my in-laws. And I will write their love story.

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