My mother in law was Cesarina. With a name like Cesarina, her father must have known in some, she was destin for bigger things in her life.
She came from a life of poverty. She made a new life for herself in America. She was the oldest of seven children. She was born in 1935 in Drusco, Italy. It is a small town in the district of Parma, Italy.
Since she was the oldest, she was responsible for moving the cows. At an early age, about 7 years old, she had to hike out on the mountains by herself with the cows. She would always tell me how much she hated the smell of animals, and it was all due to moving the cows everyday of her young life.
She would get up early and milk the cows, bring the milk into the one room, stone house for her mother. Her mother would utilize the milk to make cheese. Her father spent time hunting, and Ceasarina had to set off with the cows. Making sure they stayed off the property of other people. Making sure that all of them were accounted for each day. She told me about one time when she lost a cow. She was sitting under a tree, daydreaming about a different life. A life far from the country life that she had known all her life. As she sat under the tree one of the cows gave birth to a calf, and disappeared. She frantically looked and looked for the cow. She stayed out past the time when her parents were expecting her, and did not look forward to going home to her her fathers anger.
Once she got home, she got a beating by her father. Life was much more harsh in those days, and the loss of a cow was a big deal. We can try to bring our 21st century judgement into the equation, but that is not going to change what has already transpired.
While she was young her view of Americans was an unpleasant one. She grew up in a small town where many of the plans of World War II unloaded their bombs. The children thought the Americans hated them. They would hide as the bombs were exploding around them. It was a tumultuous time for the world. The children of her village wondered what was it they had done to America to get them to hate this little town in Italy.
One good memory that she shared with me was when she predicted that a calf was going to be born to a cow that was very old. The men of the town thought it was impossible, but she knew in her heart that the cow was going to give birth. Once the calf was born, her father was proud of her, and this always brought a smile to her face. Knowing that there was a moment in her life that her dad appreciated having a smart girl.
Around the age of 13, she was old enough to help her family. She worked as a maid for the Ferrari family. This move to a Villa would turn out to be a turing point in her life. (more next week)