Recently I had a chat with my daughter-in-law about her Italian upbringing and the strict rules of mourning she had to follow as a child in the 70s. She’s the daughter of Italian immigrants who brought the mourning tradition with them in the 60s to the New World.
As an adult, she can look back and laughingly tell the tales of a perplexed American child who at six years old didn’t celebrate Christmas due to a death in the immediate family back in the old country. No Christmas tree and no festa. Her mother wore black for a year. She cried.
Fast forward a few years and she was was about to celebrate her First Communion complete with a fluffy white dress and a family party. That was until another death in the family cancelled that party within days of the event. The party invitations were revoked. Her mother wore black. She cried.
Naturally when it came time to graduate from high school, she didn’t get her hopes up for a graduation party. And it’s a good thing she didn’t! Her mother wore black. She cried.
All of that crying and I couldn’t help but think that her life was a variation on the a song by Leslie Gore – “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To..”
A week before the biggest event of her life, her wedding. My mother died. Given my mother’s view on mourning – the wedding went on. My daughter-in-law cried tears of joy. She finally got the party she wanted.