Here we are again…a few days away from another Mother’s Day. This is the day that we reflect on our mother’s…her good merits, the unforgettable quirks, the craziness of her ways, the memories we hold in our hearts that no one dare remove, and hallmarks of a legend that only attributes to her.
Let me tell you about my mother, Ann Castrogiovanni Fiorino. She was all of 5 foot, and about 135 pounds. She almost always wore an apron, because she spent most of her time in the kitchen. She was a Sicilian, born here in the United States, in Franklin, Louisiana in 1905. Her parents had just recently arrived, and spoke very little English. She eventually made her way to St. Louis, Missouri, where she courted and married my father, William Fiorino at the age of 21 years. He was 19.
My mom was a character! When she first got married, she really did not know how to cook, nor did she like it. But because my father remained hungry, she plodded on. She heard about a lady named “Miss Mary the Cook.” This lady was well known on “The Hill” as the lady who cooked for all the Italian weddings. Mom called her up one day and asked,” Miss Mary, can I come and help you prepare for the weddings, so I can learn to cook?” “Come, come” said Miss Mary, “but I no pay you. You learn…that is your pay!” And as the story goes, my mother did learn… everything from Red Sauce and Meatballs, to Homemade Ravioli, Chicken, and Veal Parmigiana, Spiedini, Italian vegetables of every kind, and of course how to make the Italian cookies. These cookies were placed on big trays, and it was a tradition that the bride and groom would pass them around during the reception.
So, evolved my mother… the cook, the entertainer of people known, and unknown, the teacher, the life of the party, and most of all, model for her children and grandchildren. She Loved to Cook! It didn’t matter who sat at her table, just so there were people to serve, to laugh with, and share stories. At times, the volume came to a deafening decimal. Uncles, aunts, godfathers, cousins…they all had a story to tell. As a child, for me it was the most fun ever! Everybody would hug and kiss my mother, and say, “Molto Bene”, Miss Anna, (you did good.)
One of her quirks were, that after dinner, we all had to clean up, just in the case she would get robbed. No robber was going to break in on a dirty kitchen!
She was also very independent. Blessed with the talent to sew and mend anything, she always had “her money.” One day my father came home to a brand-new bedroom set. “What is this?”, he said, “Now you just hold on mister,” my mom would say.” I bought this for us with “my money.” And that was that!
When we want to laugh, we bring up mom, when we want to cry, we bring up mom, when we need comfort, we bring up mom…and so goes the cycle of life. Mama Mia…my dear mother!
Who can replace her? I will gladly answer this question. You and I…we are now the matriarchs’ in our family. We are the cooks, we are the entertainers, we are the nourishers to our grandchildren, we are the Mama Mias’. We must, and we will, keep this cycle of love revolving for an eternity. Our children deserve it.
Happy Mother’s Day