‘Si cara’ ‘yes dear’
Sounds very formal, however, my nonno, who died a year ago this week, used to call me cara- dear and the last time that I have a meaningful memory of him other than the ones of my childhood is one of the time I brought my first born to visit. As a first time stay at home mother I was very lonely, I used it as a reason so see my maternal grandparents.
It felt amazing to see them, to visit every week for two straight years. After not seeing them after my parents divorce. After a childhood of weekly visits that ended when I was ten because of their separation. We visited weekly until my Nonna was admitted to care. I was leaving with my first born, pregnant with my second and tears in my eyes as my son screamed to be locked into his car seat, an acknowledgement of pain locked in our gaze, he (my strong, Italian born Grandparent who hid from Mussolini) said ‘oh cara’ – oh dear, with the look of love and sympathy on his eyes that I had not seen in ten years. My heart melted into a childhood heart, I cried. I was young, I had no help, I wanted my family. A sudden flashback came to me of my nonno calling me cara as a child.
Fast forward to his funeral; I see his brother who recently lost his son my cousin to a drug overdose and cried continually, when he’d stop to look at me, he would hold my hand and say Oh Nina, my name is Sheri, but oddly growing up I always wanted my name to be more Italian, I wanted Nina or Gina. he always called me nina as a child, I thought it meant neice, as he was my Zeo gino, my uncle. A strong Italian immigrant came to Canada with his brothers for a better life. Always hard workers, always tax paying, law abiding citizens. All gone, my family from my childhood, gone.
With my dad suffering and witling away from dementia, my mom and I estranged since their divorce when I was a teen, my brothers, one a drug addict, a thief, on and off the streets, the other wanting nothing to do with our family. It is easy to feel sorry for oneself, but I try to remember that many, so many, still have it worse than I.
Thoughts of life and death wander through my mind and then sometimes with the reflections of those gone; a simple memory of soup. A warm meal served with love at my Nonna and Nonno’s house, a favorite place to be as a child. A beautiful memory, like the delicious homemade soup, warms my heart.
Italian Minestrone Soup
400 g of cannellini beans or a mix of pinto and garbanzo beans
2 liters of water to boil the beans
1 can of stewed tomatoes (unsalted)
200 g zucchini
500 g of herbs (Italian seasoning or fresh basil and oregano
150 g of pork rind or 100 g of raw ham
200 g of fine pasta
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tsp. pepper
Place into a saucepan the prosciutto (ham) cut into strips or pork, together with oil, a chopped onion and parsley.
As soon as the onion starts to boil, add tomatoes, beans, garlic, herbs, zucchini and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.
Let it simmer for a few minutes, add the water in which the beans have been boiled, cover the pan and let it cook at moderate heat.
Let it simmer, increase the heat and add large macaroni pasta or small shell pasta, let cool.