Page 18 - Trapped in a Diamond

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Trapped in a Diamond
My Parents
My parents loved each other very much. They were openly affectionate
with one another, and we never heard them fight. But, they did not ex-
press their affection for us children. I remember feeling that something
was not right. Why didn’t they kiss us or hug us as they did with each
other? Over the years, I have tried to make sense of my parents’ behav-
ior—not to justify it, but to attempt to understand it. It was the nine-
teen fifties, a period in society when beating children was more or less
accepted though not to the extent they did. My parents were brought up
in an age of fascism, so perhaps this helped to explain it as well.
My mother had experienced her own hardships. She lost her mother
at the age of four and her father when she was seventeen. She attended
boarding school from age seven to nineteen. The rest of her family lived
in the US, too far away at that time to have any real connection. She, too,
experienced very little warmth and affection in her childhood. When
she met my father, he became the central figure in her life, and he de-
manded her full attention. He convinced her that he was her only prior-
ity and that her time was exclusively his. Perhaps this is the reason he
insisted that others look after his children. We were very grateful to have
a nanny whom we loved.
My mother’s older brother was twenty-three years her senior; my
mother was born when my grandmother was fifty-four years old. My
mother refers to her birth as something her mother was ashamed of be-
cause it proved she had sex at her age, something of a taboo at that time.
It was the early 1920s in a small town in Italy.
My mother had a privileged life until her father died. Then, she had
to take care of herself, so after she finished her teaching certificate she
went to work immediately teaching in a school and giving piano lessons.