Waiting for Grandfather
by Michael De Stefano
GENRE: Fiction (Tragic Comedy/Coming of Age)
Meet the Corelli clan. Told by the oldest grandson, Frank, this family tapestry, with pathos and hilarity, begins weaving itself in the 1930s and rollicks through four riotous decades. The strongest thread is its oldest member, Antonio. To the ragtag Corelli clan, he is an ocean—an unwavering force upon which they rely. Lizzy, the youngest Corelli, is the brightest thread. Emanating from her is the light by which they see the world. Spanning these dynamic figures is an oddball cast of characters that keep one another in stitches right up until the life-affirming surprise birthday party of their beloved patriarch.
During Mama Corelli’s years in Philly, our grandfather and great-uncles would often bicker over whose turn it was to take her to Fairmount Park. She was always demanding that one of her sons take there for the purpose of harvesting dandelion greens. Antonio tolerated dandelion greens. Uncle Al and Uncle Nunzio considered them a notch below dog food; dandelion greens stood alone, above smelts and baccala, on their list of most hated foods. Whenever it was one of their turns to drive Mama Corelli to the park, they would wait for her in the car; they didn’t wish to be seen accompanying a crazy woman on her quest for what Uncle Nunzio called, “a bunch of friggin’ weeds.” Mama would set off into the park with her trusty pair of scissors and a bag, scouring the ground in search of a good harvest. Cicoria was what Mama called dandelion greens. I’m guessing, in Italian, cicoria means chicory—a word used to describe a variety of edible and in most instances bitter greens. Uncle Al and Uncle Nunzio didn’t care for the way cicoria smelled when it was cooking. As soon as the aroma began filling the house, off they’d go.
“I’d rather run behind a bus than smell that garbage cooking,” Uncle Nunzio complained while all were gathered for our grandfather’s surprise sixtieth birthday party. “And then to add insult to injury, we had to look at it on our plates, and it touched our other food, and then we’d have to eat it so Ma wouldn’t get her feelings hurt.”
“It was too damn bitter,” said Uncle Al.
“Bitterness I could handle,” said Uncle Nunzio. “It was the smell that was awful; I think it gave us brain damage!”
“That would explain a lot,” I whispered to Ricky.
“Ma was one of them Italian women from the other side, who could feed an army on a nickel,” Uncle Nunzio went on. “Set her loose in a park and she’ll come home with a friggin’ antipasto!”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
DeStefano is from Philadelphia, where he is the owner of a hairstyling salon.
Currently, he makes his home in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, is the husband of a
Gulf War veteran, and author of The Gunslinger’s Companion. Any thoughts or
criticisms readers of Waiting for Grandfather wish to share may be sent to
Kobo books: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/waiting-for-grandfather
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