Sunday, September 30, 2012

MOM (Excerpt from a work in progress)

My mother was born to Amalia (Emma) Vassalotti and Ansalmo Rondinelli in Philadelphia on the twenty-first of December 1915.  For my entire life, we celebrated her birthdays on Christmas Eve, only to learn after her death in 1991 that she was actually born on December 21.  That discrepancy has never been explained.  Another surprise was learning her name was Mary Josephine, and not Josephine Mary. She was the youngest of five children – 3 boys and 2 girls, and her father, of who very little is known, died shortly after her birth.   Her mother re-married to Gaetano Madorna, a widower with 6 children. (They had two more, Tommy and Eleanor.)   Their small row home in south Philadelphia had only 3 bedrooms, and at age 11 my mother and her 3 older brothers, Carmen, Alfred, and Sammy, moved into a nearby apartment; she left school after the 6th grade to run their small household.  Her older sister, Grace, had married and was starting her own family.  For the remainder of her life, Grace was the real mother figure for my mom.

Jo Rondinelli - living with 3 older brothers and being an 11 year old adult.  Fortunately she was with 3 brothers who adored her and cared for her.  But still.......    

I love this photo.  It shows determination and a will, far beyond her 11 years, completely in keeping with the amazing person she was to become.

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