Today, my mother, Vincenzella Jean Giuliani Januzzi, turns 87. She no longer lives at home, though I call where she lives her “care home”, but the blessings of these past years, when she has lived in a state of forgetting (who doesn’t), are countless.
She will dance and sing to Hey Mambo, Mambo Italiano with the best of Italian accents. She no longer speaks from her mind, but from her heart. She forgets how to be sad, though sometimes she can become VERY angry, mostly at someone telling her what to do. She hugs more, and shrugs less. And has yet to meet a cookie she hasn’t devoured.
As of late, for whatever reason, even the center’s chaplain has noticed a lightness in Mom’s demeanor. He asked me one day, What did I attribute her change to? And all I can imagine is that, in the midst of all her letting go’s, she is becoming closer to the perfect state of being, that is, of being human.
To be in her presence during these times is an awe-inspiring event, such that I am often brought to tears for no particular reason. She and I exist in this state between my grief, and her pulling towards home.
My mother was named after her birth father, Vincenzo, who lost a battle to meningitis before he met his little girl. Some of Mom’s official documents note that her birth name was Vincenzella, and not Vincenza, as originally thought. This came to light a few times over the decades, as she pursued a passport for our trip to Italy. As I went back and read through many of her personal papers, including high school reunion programs, I immediately sympathized with her, and the fact society continued to rebrand her first and last name constantly. Misspellings abound.
Ironically, when I call her Vincenzella, she repeats the name so fluently, it is like song coming from her heart.
And so I return to the chaplain’s comments, and my conclusion. Perhaps Mom is arriving closer to her birth name of Vincenzella, and thus, nearer to her state of perfect being.