This letter is the last in a series about my maternal Great Grandmother Emilia Pappalardo Serrapede. As a way to get to know her I recalled her daughter and granddaughter with whom I stayed during a vacation in Italy in 1976. I believe that we inherit patterns of behavior from our parents. In turn some of those behaviors have been transmitted from earlier generations. When a pattern consistently recurs within a family we can think on it and draw closer in spirit to the past. We might even be able to better understand our ancestors as people and not just names and dates on the family tree. This is made possible when we have family stories and factual data to add to our time spent in reflection. After considering certain similarities between Great Aunt Italia and Cousin Italia I did feel closer to Great Grandmother Emilia. When I think of her now I also recall the roses outside of Great Aunt Italia’s window and the warmth of the summer afternoons in Agropoli.
Emilia Pappalardo Serrapede was the wife of Gennaro Serrapede. She was my maternal Great Grandmother.
Great Aunt Italia: Daughter of Emilia and Gennaro. Mother of Cousin Italia. Sister of Grandpa Sam.
Cousin Italia: Daughter of Great Aunt Italia. Niece of Grandpa Sam. Wife of Antonio. Mother of Stefania. She is my First Cousin 1X Removed.
Great Aunt Filomena: Emilia’s oldest child and the favorite sister of Grandpa Sam.
Grandpa Sam (Sabato): Son of Emilia and Gennaro. Brother of Great Aunts Filomena and Italia. My maternal Grandfather.
Grandma Josie: My maternal Grandmother.
Letter No. 3
January 9, 2015
Dearest Great Grandmother Emilia,
Cousin Italia worked very hard to make Grandma Josie, Grandpa Sam and I comfortable during our visit. I’m sure you are proud of your lovely Granddaughter. While we were in Rome she shopped everyday for fresh food which she prepared into simple and tasty meals. She set a beautiful table even at breakfast. She was always dressed in a crisp cotton blouse and skirt. Grandpa Sam, Grandma Josie and I would wake up to find her at work making the café au lait, toast and getting fresh fruit arranged on a plate for us. It was a different kind of breakfast for me. I grew to like it very much, especially the fresh oranges and figs.
Cousin Italia was energetic and was quick in her movements. Grandpa Sam nicknamed her “The Wing Girl” when he talked to me in English. She was as swift as a bird in flight as she led us through the streets of Rome when we visited St. Peter’s, The Spanish Steps and the Coliseum.
There were many similarities in the gracious hospitality of Great Aunt Italia and Cousin Italia. I think this is something that is learned from one’s own mother. Great Grandmother Emilia, as I remember the warmth that surrounded our time in Agropoli, I think something of your influence was transmitted through Great Aunt Italia and Cousin Italia.
I may not have a photo of you yet, Great Grandmother Emilia, but in my heart a picture is forming. I think that in your life you taught your daughters the importance of being gracious and kind. A meal served with love is a memorable experience, especially when time has been devoted to preparing what the guests will enjoy. This begins in childhood. We learn it from our mothers. I could see that Great Aunt Italia learned that from you and in turn passed it on to Cousin Italia.
Your Great Granddaughter,
EmilyAnn Frances May
Brooklyn, NY Resources
The Victoria postcards used in this posting come from The Old Design Shop
Vintage Image Treasury
Victorian Postcard of Birds on a balcony with flowers
Bird with flowering branch crossing the sea