Who would have thought that 10 months ago my quest to find an Italian festival to break up the boredom of a beautiful weekend in Los Angeles would lead me to a dual citizenship application, a genealogical search, living relatives still in Ragusa, and a vacation to the destination I have dreamed of seeing since reading Mario Puzo’s, “The Godfather”?
Here I am standing on the land my grandfather was born in 106 years ago. That he left 95(ish) years ago for a new life in America. Here I stand about to meet his great niece, my cousin. We had shared a few pictures, a few emails, but what do you write to someone you have never met, with a language barrier adding a completely different dimension to the discussion?
She invited me down for the holiday weekend when she discovered I had no plans. I would meet her mother, her brother, her husband and her children, her friends.
She would show me the sites of Ragusa, our grandfathers’ hometown. She would show me the surrounding towns, the farm her brother rented, and the farm he owned.
I could stay at the beach house or the hotel across the street, as the city house was full.
Before contacting Ivana, I was worried she would not care about a distant cousin. I worried the world’s current events would affect her opinion of Americans.
Then I realized, “I am Italian! There is no such thing as “distant” cousin. I am an American! I voted (3 times) against all the current events.”
With much anticipation, I waited outside the McDonalds, looking for a “la macchina piccola rossa” (Little red car). As the car pulled up, I recognized Ivana from her picture.
She bounded out of her car with as much enthusiasm as I had in anticipation. We hugged, we kissed, and we laughed.
We are family!