Yesterday my mom called and told me that she had a Treasure Trove waiting for me at the house.  I thought she was referring to the boatload of art supplies I had just ordered – but no, she was talking about REAL treasures.

New Love If We Dont Have Stories, We Dont Have a PastNicholas DiGiovanni and Marguerite Pace

IMG 1135 e1294444423729 If We Dont Have Stories, We Dont Have a PastLetters Between New Lovers

IMG 1141 e1294444657304 If We Dont Have Stories, We Dont Have a PastPictures of Marguerite Pace DiGiovanni with family and friends

IMG 1142 e1294444793738 If We Dont Have Stories, We Dont Have a PastNewspapers from 1943 with Headlines: ‘Italy Surrenders!’ and ‘Mussolini Ousted’

cropped newspapers e1294446286103 If We Dont Have Stories, We Dont Have a PastStack of Newspapers from the 1940′s during the war

1944 Christmas Postcard small e1294446443379 If We Dont Have Stories, We Dont Have a PastThis “postcard” is actually the menu for the troops on base for their Christmas meal. Sent to Marguerite from Nick in 1944.

On the left side he wrote:

Hello Darling, Missed you more than ever this year again.  Hope you are in the best of health and that next Christmas will be “Our Christmas” the way we want it.
All my love, Nick

I cannot describe the joy in my heart that these treasures bring to me.  All of the letters are from when they were dating, and end in 1945, which is the year they got married.  My dad and mom told me how surprised they were as they sampled them, that my grandpa was so affectionate and lovey-dovey with his bride-to-be!  It is a side of him that my dad never saw.  Ever.  My grandpa was somewhat of a gruff Italian man – not one to show affection or say “I love you.”  From the stories I hear, he was hard on the kids, had a bad temper, and yelled a lot.

It makes me sad that his children did not get to experience much of this tender man portrayed in these letters.  And it reminds me that we are all made up of conflicting facets, light and shadows.  It does not mean that our light is not sincere, or not who we really are, just because someone else only gets to experience our shadows.  Different people, different places, different seasons of life tend to bring out our different facets.

My step-daughter said to me: “I didn’t know you were this funny!”  She didn’t know because most of our relationship has been a day-to-day, full of life mundane and responsibility.  Now that we have moved to another state and don’t do the ‘day-to-day’ with her, she sees a softer, more playful side of me – the side that isn’t getting after her to clean up after herself, or get her homework done, or to be careful who she hangs out with.  Just as, I’m sure, my Aunts or Uncles might be surprised to be a fly on the wall of our old house and see me getting very impatient very easily with the kids, or go sit out in my car to cry instead of yell.  They might think, ‘What happened to Ang?  This is not the sweet girl we know!’

We are all shadows and light.  After hearing the comment from my step-daughter, and the one from my dad about my grandpa, it encourages and inspires me to be sure to share my light more in the spaces where my shadows are more easily provoked.

I will be going through EVERY letter, EVERY newspaper, EVERY picture, taking them in, treasuring them, and learning about and from the past.  If we don’t have stories, we don’t have a past.

As I was driving to my office today after looking through these treasures, I thought about what legacy I will leave behind.  Will my documented life be one that is a true reflection of me?  Of all my light and shadows?  Will it help and inspire my posterity, or merely be a window into a sad unaccomplished life?  What can I do moving forward to be a better record keeper of the good, the bad, and the ugly – to hold nothing back for fear of my own ego.  To let my words, my voice, my life give meaning and instruction to others.  Or that my posterity may be spared from my own mistakes; and simply, that they might know me, a Matriarch of things to come.

*My dear Uncle Tom sent these treasures.  My grandma passed away at the age of 95 on November 7, 2010.

Related posts:

Emergency Visit to See My Beloved Grandmother
Shepherd Me, O God
Leaving Las Vegas and Belated Christmas Fun
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