Last Wednesday, September 20th, I embarked on an adventure which I never tried before fearing I might not have survived it: a 15 hour road-trip from Jacksonville, FL to Greenwood, IN–almost 900 miles–on board a mini-van with five adults and two children.
The reason for the trip was a family wedding and reunion on my husband’s side. The last time that we were together was in September of 2009, and since then, there has been a funeral, three weddings, and six births.
In comparison with my Colombian family, which gathers frequently, getting an American family together in the same place is a task of titanic proportions. In the case of my husband’s family, there are members who live in each corner of the US, from California, Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio. Therefore, such event is unforgettable.
As good Italians, the Spadafora Family is loud and caring. They hug and kiss fervently, which made me feel right at home and reminded me of the time I met them ten years ago. My mother-in-law, now gone, reminded me of my own grandmother with her soft voice and obsession with feeding the people who walked through her door.
In other words and without the intent to stereotype, if you are a Colombian or Hispanic looking to marry an American, I recommend Italians 100%.
Now, besides the endless chats about life and stories about the loved ones that were gone, I saw the children, including my son, play until they dropped dead. They enjoyed their time together as cousins as if they knew each other forever. Then, I remembered a popular saying in my home country: “The blood calling”.
Social media and instant messaging apps are often criticized because they absorb people’s minds and time. Nonetheless, for us who are away from our families, these communication tools are vital to maintain and pass on that identity to our little ones.
When my mother-in-law was alive, she used to tell me how sad her mother was because she didn’t know about her relatives in Italy. The only memories she had of her parents and siblings were the black and white photos she kept in a trunk; the same one she traveled with when she moved to America in 1918.
My husband’s grandfather had a similar story. He said goodbye to his only brother at a port in Italy in 1911 to never reunite again. The sole proof of his existence is a letter, written in Italian. The envelope has an Argentinian stamp dated September 27, 1967.
Recently, my husband has established a friendship with some cousins in Naples through Facebook, and with Google’s help, he translates the messages. On my part, I have been trying to find more information about the uncle in Argentina with the help of a friend who lives in Buenos Aires.
Although it seems a shot in the dark, my husband longs to find the trail of his relatives and to pay tribute to his beloved grandparents.
We don’t know when, but a trip to Italy and Argentina is in our bucket list. The love of family is an invisible thread that sews, stitch by stitch, the hearts of its members together, regardless of distance. Hence, finding the long lost family members is worth traveling to the end of the world.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
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