Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Little Piece of History: Grandma you will be missed.

Before I begin I would like to say a big thank you to my Dad and sister Lisa for helping me write this blog and of course my husband who reads and re reads every blog I write. Not only does he read my blogs he is also so patient with me as he listens to me talk out all my thoughts until they become clear on paper. So, THANK YOU!

This Holiday Season has been a whirlwind for my family and immediate family. A whirlwind that has caused some very strong winds, involving a rush of events and a stirring of emotions which COULD have resulted in destruction. I have learned though that through this process sometimes a whirlwind needs to happen in order for something new to transpire. Destruction is a horrible event in any situation. I mean think about it, anytime a tornado hits a city, a terrorist bombs a city, etc... loss tends to follow. A loss is never easy but what amazes me is when a crowd of people come together after destruction and work together to rebuild a city and gather around to spread love throughout the lives that have been wounded or effected by the harm that was done to them. In these moments a choice has to be made in order for the rebuilding to begin. If you want to take it a step further not only does a choice have to be made but an action must be made in order to move in a certain direction with the hope that a healthier outcome will be accomplished. 

On December 18, 2015 my family lost my Grandmother. Which meant my dad and his brothers lost a mom, my Aunt and Uncle lost a sister, extended family members lost a loved one and my grandmothers friends lost a friend. A loss effects a strand of people and each strand has a different effect and a different way of grieving. For me my grandmother was the last one of my grandparents living and I found myself not wanting to let go. I wanted to hold my grandmother close and not say goodbye as it felt we were losing a little piece of history in our family. In my world it seemed as though everything surrounding me made me think about my grandmother and the life she lived. I remember one day I went to work and the first three people I served were grandparents taking their grandkids out to eat. Then, I happen to ask a guest "so what are your plans for the holidays?" His response was "Oh I'm going to my girlfriends house to make cookies with her grandparents." What a melt your heart moment right? It is crazy to me what life brings your way in order to remind you of what is happening in your own personal life. Within these moments lay little nuggets to see beauty in what may seem to be a not so beautiful time. After many more instances I decided to take a step back and think about the situation that caused a whirlwind in my family and choose to remember the beautiful life my grandmother lived. Often times I remind myself of something I wrote almost two years ago in my "Lavender Fields" blog post when grieving from the loss of my third daughter Annabelle. And that was I thought there had to be this "Goodbye moment" but rather than a Goodbye I learned its not about saying Goodbye but rather saying Goodbye to the grief that death can bring and choosing to see the beauty in the life that all along is meant to be celebrated and remembered. 

And so this is my remembrance.

Some say you had no memory of who we were.
You didn't call us by name.
Most of the time we couldn't make sense of what you were trying to say. 
Dementia and Alzheimer's may have taken a piece of who you were but on the inside laid a piece of you that never changed.   
There you were still life of the party, that strong Italian voice you could hear clear through the halls. You were still the boss and no one had a say so, yup that's right Angela still ran the show. At the end of your life you lived life with the help of caregivers and some may say that wasn't much of living at all. But I see it differently, because a life alive still has purpose after all. You still remembered, just not the way we would hoped it would be. 

You were like a newborn baby learning this new life and just like any baby does a couple of years go by and they become aware of their surroundings and recognize familiar faces. Eventually you found your new home, you found your new friends, you even found little jobs to do, I'd say you found life again. 

The times we came to visit you seemed happy. You would show us around, tell us about your job and what a good job you were doing. We celebrated the holidays, your birthdays, had dinners and went out for treats too. Occasionally you would remember something, but then quickly forget twice as much. When you heard music you'd sing and dance, you'd tell your jokes, repeat your one liners and share with us your stories. When you saw the great grand kids they would give you hugs and kisses and that would make you smile. There were days of joy and days of sorrow.

Though you still had life we could tell this life was quickly fading. It's hard to except, hard to understand, hard to let go, hard to control the thoughts and emotions of seeing you that way. But knowing who you are on the inside made each day worth while. They say it's what's on the inside that counts and I'd say all along that has proven to be true. 

The person you are never gave up, you kept pushing through. You are a fighter, a constant reminder that at the age of 82 you lived a life that most can't comprehend. A little Italian girl born and raised in a small town called Cella Mare, near the city of Bari, Italy born in 1933, you recall how the Germans invaded your town and how medicine was not easy to get. You recalled how the Germans tried to barter for food in exchange for medicine and how you stood up to them and refused! You lived through World War II, the oldest daughter of seven kids, playing the role of the second mother not having much of a childhood. At the age of 17 holding the rails of the ship "The Constitution" braving your journey to a new land in the U.S., not speaking one word of English, only having a 4th grade school education, but that didn't stop you. In the great city of Chicago you met a man named Adolfo Lavorata to marry in the year 1954. 
The two of you raised four handsome boys Guido, John, Mike and Albert. You worked, at Salerno Butter Cookies, Motorola, and did odd jobs at restaurants to help subsidize the families income as your husband Adolfo worked construction. There you two were investing your money to keep this life going. Adolfo built your dream home in the suburb of Bloomingdales, IL where your boys grew and as each was finding their way. 
Years later Adolfo had an idea. To move to a small town so the two of you could build a prosperous business. In an unknown town called Cadott, Wisconsin their was 120 acres of land and a small cafe on the corner of the property bordering Highway 29 and Highway 27 "seemed crazy but why not, let's do it." You changed the name of the cafe to Angela's Truck Stop. Making a name for yourself, and I think that's pretty cool. As the years went by "The Lavorata Corporation" was developed and started distributing homemade Italian food: like the Lavorata's sauce, frozen Panzerotti's, Ravioli's, Cannelloni and Manicotti. Adolfo branched out and bought a Ravioli machine for $50,000 where you could mass produced larger quantities to local stores across the states of Wisconsin and Illinois. Outside of the business one tradition you shared was your capability to prepare a Saint Joseph's table filled with wonderful Italian foods that you shared with the community for over 30 years and gave donations from the meals to charity. Your legacy, traditions, time and labor was built not just for you but for your sons, their wives and kids, along with the extension of love toward so many others lives too.   
As the family grew. All the boys married, having children of their own. Pursuing their passions and dreams you and Adolpho discovered it was time to sell Angela's Truck Stop and the Land and find a warmer climate to move to. Chandler, Arizona was the place you called home for the next 18years. A beautiful home with a back yard big enough for grandpa to plant his trees and garden. A pantry, laundry room and kitchen with enough room to prep and store all the homemade Italian cooking traditions. The two of you kept up and celebrated 55 years of marriage. With this life that you two created most would say is impossible, but you two didn't look at the impossible you just did it and you did it together.

As I sit here writing out my thoughts I can't help but think about how much more there is to share. I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface with the depth of this rich history between these two beautiful people. Here I am, just one out of 12 grandkids that was blessed with grandparents that understood life more than most. Sitting in the background trying to understand all that my grandparents had to sacrifice just to come to the U.S. I can't even pretend like I understand. Here I am living this life that seems like everything my grandparents worked for I have at my fingertips and I don't even think I realize it. 

After my grandfather passed I remember thinking "what is going to happen now? Is grandma going to be okay? Does this mean all the boys will have to carry the financial load providing for their mother?" But no! Even though my grandfather passed, once again he thought things through. He may have been gone from this earth but he lived on providing a life for my grandmother and made sure she was well taken care of financially for the rest of her life. Six years went by and on December 18, 2015 @ 6:00pm my grandmother Angela Pasqua Losurdo Lavorata decided to join him. 

People travel the world to behold a piece of history, but my grandparents gave us history. Something beautiful happens when history is told. People begin to remember, tell stories and keep retelling and retelling all the wonderful memories that will forever remain living. I am thankful for my roots that are planted so deep. Life is precious let's not take it for granted.

Grandma I imagine you now just like this picture. Young and beautiful, strong and witty, laughing and dancing, with every part of you functioning. You lived a beautiful life and that's what we are remembering. Rest in Peace Grandma you are now living.  


  1. Amazing story, very touching. I met Angela and Adolfo many, many years ago. I knew 3 of her 4 sons. I wish I could’ve heard this story all those years ago. You are a wonderful writer and I hope you are putting your writing skills to good use. Peace and Love to you and your family
    Sincerely, Shu

    1. Hi Shu,
      Thank you so much. I am so happy you were able to meet my grandparents. Did you know them in wisconsin? I loved the timing of all this because it’s my grandmothers Birthday, April 10th and when I received your comment it brought a smile to my facing hearing from someone who knew her. I am so happy you came across my blog and enjoyed reading about my grandparents. They were amazing and left such an amazing legacy behind. I am pursing my writing more and more and I really appreciate the encouragement.

      Would love to hear more about how you knew my grandparents.

      Thank you,