Mending the Tear

With much joy and excitement, I recently received my Italian citizenship. ✨Through me, my son became an Italian citizen as well. I wanted Italian citizenship largely to honor two men in my life—my late father and my young son.

For my father, I wanted to fuse together what had been severed. You see, my siblings and I were never supposed to be Americans. My father, although grateful for this country, which allowed a talented yet illiterate and uneducated man to build a small business that fed and educated four children, carried the loss of his homeland as a wound in his heart. He lived away from his nuclear family, and this pained him. No amount of time could mend that tear. Like so many families, mine planned to work for a few years in America, then return to Italy to live out the rest of its life.

But fate, as it will, intervened. The dream shape shifted, assumed its own path like current no one could take hold of. Here we are, all these decades later, half apple pie and Fourth of July, half macaroni and cannoli. Connected to our roots, but also disconnected; no longer heirloom, but a hybrid of two species.

For my son, I wanted to draw him into the long line of ancestors that lived in another place and to root him, as well as his descendants, back to the land his grandfather sacrificed, so many years ago, never meaning to, an accident of destiny. I wanted my son to share something deep and inherent with the grandfather he will never meet. To bond them to one another, as I wish I could do in life, but, through yet another act of fate, cannot. Becoming citizens of Italy was one way to join them, through time and space, through the world we see and the one we do not see. To mend the tear at last.

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