Pauline M. Spatafora
Why Do I Write?
I write because I love to write; my pen runs smoothly on paper. Writing is the living record of my thoughts and emotions, a solace to me in moments of despair. Last night, for instance, in a moment of intense melancholia, I found myself thinking back to 2009, and my trip to Sicily visiting with my cousins, Franco, Enza, and Emilia. Rather than brood about what was and is no more, I started to write about my trip and how wonderful it made me feel. It seemed a natural way to express my love for my family in Italy and for my parents’ native country. Instead of sitting down at the computer, I took out a legal sized pad, the familiar yellow type , and poured out colors, sweet, smells, hugs and kisses, starry skies, and peace just as I remembered it.
I was back in Taormina, a southern pleasure Island in Sicily, stretched out in the sun, aware of only the beauty around me. There was beauty in the mountains, the clear blue skies, and the green Mediterranean Sea, where the fish played hide and seek with each other, much to my delight. I strolled quietly along the sand feeling like an Italian Countess, as pebbles clung to the bottom of my bare sun kissed feet. I walked through terrains of sweet smelling flowers, so colorful, so vivid they took by breath away.
Writing is the language of my thoughts and emotions. I write of my heroes and a thousand other matters connected with my life. My writing divides into different subjects, the nature …depending on my mood. I am not a Virginia Woolf, a George Orwell nor a Jonathon Swift. But I am me and I write because it feels good. My books are not like Boccaccio’s Decameron, nor Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but like the works of the great masters, they are written down to assure my immortality. For this reason, my last book was written with immortality in mind.
My mother died when I was nine years old, and she was just forty. Much of what I remembered was lost. When I came across her letters written to her sister in Sicily during wartime, while she was here in America, the thought came to me to immortalize her. (I found them in Sicily) It took me twenty years, but it is finished. I translated her letters into English and wrote my book and her life. This is a tribute to my mother; now she will live forever!
My aunt Teresa lived in America with her husband, Luigi. Teresa was the eldest of my mother’s sisters, and my mother, the youngest. Teresa died in 1937 pregnant with her eleventh child and dying of pneumonia. Luigi was left with seven children, three had died previously. My mother, the only young and unmarried sister, decided to come to America to help with the youngest children. Six weeks after her arrival, she married her brother-in-law, Luigi a man twenty five years her senior. I was born of this union. These letters are the correspondence of my mother, Anna to her sister Maria in Sicily.
Dear Sister, Letters Home to Sicily from Wartime America was published December 26, 2009.
Here is an excerpt from her first letter, which I call, The Voyage.
October 12, 1938
Finally, after a few days that I passed in a very bad state, today I can dedicate writing to you. My desire was to write to you at each port where we had docked, but it has not been possible.
From the Straits of Gibraltar to Lisbon I was in bed because it was high tide and I was ill. We went from Lisbon to the Azores during which time the se was very bad once again and all the passengers were in bed. What made it especially bad was the fog, which was a bit frightening, but fortunately everything was okay. Slowly the ocean calmed down and I was afraid that some of the passengers would have had to be taken out on stretchers. It still doesn’t seem possible that I am on the eve of arrival. I still cannot see land, only an immensity of sea and an infinite extension of the sky. I still can’t believe that tomorrow I will be among my nephews and nieces and Luigi. I still cannot seem to put together the development that has taken place. It seems that I have written everything to you, the bad the good and the beautiful…..
Professor Pauline M. Spatafora has extensive experience in the corporate world, public speaking, and theater including music, and dance, as well as education. She was a founder and partner of the Adult Learning Center, Inc., and president of P.S. Communications. For the past twenty-three years, Professor Spatafora has been a CUNY faculty member teaching communications, literature and writing courses. She has completed three books: A Psycho Literary Study of Virginia Woolf, Pronunciation Made Easy and her latest endeavor, Dear Sister, Letters Home to Sicily from Wartime America.