Passing on Italian Family Values
My father-in-law, Anthony Charles Nicoletti, was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 9, 1912. His father Sabato Nicoletti was born in 1871 and his mother Anna Gregorio was born in 1872, both in Laurino, Italy. Shortly after the turn of the 20th Century they emigrated with their first son, Andrew, to the USA. They settled in what was then known as "Pig Town" in Brooklyn where they had three more sons; Anthony, Frank, and Michael. Sabato had an excavating business and died as the result of a cave-in in 1936, two weeks before Anthony wed Rose Jordan. Anna lived with one or another of her sons until she died in 1965 in the Bronx.
People bemoan the "loss" of traditional Italian values. But, values are preserved by living them. To my father-in-law, his family was "the best." If there was a problem "Nicky would fix it." When I fixed something at my house, he would inspect it to ensure it was good enough for his daughter. He loved all his 10 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren but had an extra-special bond with my own, or rather "his daughter's", progeny. My wife Suzanne, insisted on never being far from her parents, and for the past 20 years they lived in our two-family house. In late June, Nicky was hospitalized. He survived an operation and was recovering when we left for a conference overseas, but rushed home on July 12 when he unexpectedly died in the hospital. Below is the eulogy read by my youngest daughter, Kathryn Suzanne, at Nicky's wake. Her honest eloquence marks the living values Nicky gave her. I am sure that she, and my other daughters, Kristin Martha, and Karen Rose, will pass them in turn to my grandchildren.