Back in the day, my grandmother, Margharite was a member of the informal social society I have come to call the black widows. There’s nothing more stereotypical than a widowed Italian woman wearing all black as a sign of her mourning and devotion. That was my grandmother’s generation. That tradition however, ended with my mother when my father died unexpectedly at the all too young age of 47. The year was 1960.
And oh how those black widows, including my grandmother, could talk! I remember how eyebrows rose and tongues wagged when my mother, Vincenza, walked into the funeral parlor wearing navy blue. And how she continued to dress in her classic attire, that day and every day after.
After the funeral Mass, she leaned into the pew, and stared down the row looking each black widow cooly in the eye. She knew things too. And she said, with the charactistic calmness that was her hallmark, “I was good to him when he was alive, I have nothing to prove now.”
Ever since that day, membership in the black widow society saw a steady decline. And today, in that neighborhood, it is one tradition that is almost extinct.
And good riddance…