As Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, I thought I’d like to put my thoughts to my wonderful Mom, Sara. I lost her way too soon, but there is always something lingering in my life that reminds me of the joy she gave her family. I’d like to share her most happy moments with you.
She was born Sara Nancy Rose Santoro to immigrant parents from Sicily and was the 4th in line of 6 siblings. She had promised her father that she would finish going to college after she married, as she met the love of her life, Joseph Mario Vallone, in her junior year of college at URI and got married soon after that. She did complete her degree in education by going to extension classes and getting her B.A. in elementary education after the three of us were born. Unfortunately, her father passed away suddenly and he was never to see her graduate.
The story of her wedding and marriage is a lovely one. My Dad had told me that he saw her for the first time at her parents’ house while he was at a college meeting for Italian-Americans sponsored by her sister and some friends. By Mom came home that weekend from college and as she entered the room, he took one look at her and said to his friend Sal, “I’m going to marry that girl”. And so it went that at 20 years old, my Mom married Joe Vallone, on September 23, 1940.
My parents had quite a honeymoon for those times. My Dad had graduated from MIT in 1938 and had a red convertible Buick in which they toured the entire United States, stopping, and in some cases, visiting different cities for more than a day, They were gone for one month! September 23 to October 29! She kept a diary which I found among her things and the first pages she scribbled “Joe and Sara” and then listed all of the states they visited.
After the opening pages with her list of States, she wrote her first entry. It reads:
Monday, September 23
The most beautiful and I’m sure the most memorable day of my life. Married at 9:00 am- Dinner and reception at Rhodes Annex
Arrived at Mohican Hotel- Connecticut – at 10:30 PM. Stayed in Room 320. Joe carried me across the threshold. Ate at Peterson’s
Then started for New York…”
My mother was a beauty and we all knew it. I wanted to be just like her. She was fashionable and always well manicured. She had beautiful legs and always wore high heels. I loved to go shopping with her. She had an eye for fashion and went to the nicest stores. She always brought me with her, probably because she knew I was most like her in many ways and had the most patience. She loved my sister and brother just as much.
She was very talented and made all of our clothes as children. Especially for the holidays, she made sure we got all dressed up before going to see our grandparents. We always had bonnets for Easter and my father bought all the ladies corsages. I remember they were gardenias and loved the smell.
My grandmother was very special to me. When I got my first job teaching across the street from her house, every day I used to cross the street and go up a little pathway that lead me to her house. She would always make me a nice soup and a hearty meal and we would speak Italian. She was truly my second mother. My own mother was so fond of her mother that my Dad would take her with them on day trips and out to restaurants. She was a jewel, too, and I could see where my Mom got her sweetness.
I was lucky to have taken my Mom to Italy after my Dad passed away. She loved it and always asked me to take her back. We saw all the big cities, but never got to Sicily. My only regret was that I never took her back to Sicily to see her Mom’s and Dad’s hometowns. We ran out of time.
The last entry in her honeymoon journal reads like this: “There’s no one in the world like Joe — never too much of anything precious.”
That was my mother’s love story. I wish all of you a very happy Mother’s Day on Sunday whether she’s with you or not, keep her in your heart.
See you next Tuesday