Before I begin another blog on how one never knows where life, and blogging will take them, I want to thank ALL of you for viewing, reading and/or commenting on my blogs. It’s exciting to me, especially because these days, during the “polar vortex,” I remain homebound. So, i’m thrilled to be able to connect to people all over the world! Too cool! So, this ol’ girl thanks you for making my life a little more interesting! Please feel free to comment and/or ask questions regarding “Phillip,” my jewelry, or just moi!
So, to continue…One of my biggest thrills was reuniting with my other Brooklyn cousins. This time, on my Dad’s side. Don’t talk to much about the “Old Man.” because, well, to put it bluntly, he was not quite right. In fact, most of that side of the family were not quite right. That, is the Sicilian side.
I reunited with the Rolanti side in 2004, via the internet and through my “dead” cousin, Tommy. God rest his soul. Unfortunately, now, he really has passed, but for more than twenty years, the Old Man had told me was dead because he was gay! I’ve let go of a lot of things in my life, but that.
Tommy was the youngest in the family. About five, (I think?) years younger. When we were growing up, my Mom and I used to go to see my Uncle Victor and Aunt Vera in the Bensonhurst/Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn. My Uncle used to sometimes drive all the way to Queens, pick us up and drive to their house. I loved going there because there, I wasn’t the youngest; Tommy was. My cousin Lorraine, who is only nine months older than I were two of a kind. We loved the same things. We still do. She is the L’Ora of my jewelry line through Bella L’Ora Jewelry and Design. I digress.
My fondest memory is my Mom giving us a quarter($.25) to go get a “slice.” If you have to ask what that means, you’re not a New Yorker or you’ve never been to the City. I can remember, as we were walking down the street, I think 71st Street, to Mario’s, the aroma of the best pizza you ever ate! And, we, Lorraine, Tommy and I had a whole twenty-five cents. Back then, pizza was ten-cents a slice! Enough for Lorraine, me and well, not for Tom. Talk about a dejected look, which he perfected, in his later years, it was enough to make you melt! And melt we did…splitting our pieces so that he got some. Actually, I think he made out better!
I totally lost contact with all of the Rolanti cousins until 2004 when I was, for whatever reason, Google-ing, our sur name, my maiden name. I had looked a hundred times before with no results. It’s an odd Sicilian name and not quite right…seriously. It had been changed from the actual Sicilian spelling of “RULLANTI,” (did I get that right, Lorraine?) to “ROLANTI,” when my grandfather Francesco, came to America in 1898. Then, somewhere along the line, it was again incorrectly transcribed: ROLANDO. So, some of the brothers were ROLANTI and some ROLANDO. All, not quite right. Lorraine’s dad, Victor, being the most sane of them.
One morning, for giggles, I once again typed in ROLANTI. Low and behold, I see:Thomas Rolanti, with the band “Rubberlegs” yada, yada…and there was a website. I originally thought, this must be an obit, but it wasn’t! So I sent an email and I thought, this is nuts. A few days later, the phone rang and there was Tommy. We cried for a long time. I just wanted to hug him.
I got to see Tom, Lorraine, her husband Takeo and my older cousin Vic, in the Summer of 2005. A gift from the Angels. My cousin, Tom passed in 2006, he was honored at PFLAG, that year. My cousin Lorraine was the Maid of Honor at my wedding in 2007. We speak very, very often. Really, we have never been apart.