The age of my Aunt Mary who passed away just yesterday.
She was the first-born child of my grandmother, born in 1897 in the town of Licodia Eubia, a part of Catalia, Sicily.
In 2001, I stood in the house my grandmother was born and remember how my dad and I found the very spot: word-of-mouth.
I had just graduated high school and wanted more than anything else to know where I had come from.
We arrived in Rome, traveled through Naples and over east to Calabria where we feasted on my grandfather’s olive tree farms. He was born in 1884.
There, I experienced authentic, homemade lasagna laid upon a table set for over a dozen relatives who spoke nothing but Italian. The roads elevated and bumpy so much so that when a cousin took me on a fast-paced moped ride, I learned to scream “Ayyyy-ya!!!”
My dad, who spoke broken Italian at the time, did his best to gather contact information and on we went to Sicily.
It was there that we were robbed.
We had read about the risk, ahead of time, and our blue Mercedes Benz rental (an economic option there) didn’t help our cause.
We were lost in an alley in Sicily when a man on a moped jackknifed in front of our car, stopping us dead while a man on foot opened our back doors and grabbed my book bag and my father’s brief case.
They gained nothing aside from my diary, my camera (and nine rolls of film), and the notebook of my family’s contact information, as my passport and my dad’s wallet were safely in the front seats with us.
In other words, they stole our recorded history.
But on we ventured.
We spoke to locals in Catalia, sharing names and dates until finally, we had arrived: The room my grandmother who later would give birth to my aunt entered this world.
I don’t have photographs but I have stories.
Stories that should be told.
And don’t we all?