Call Me Signorina

December 27, 2013

Early Christmas morning, Ignazia G., born in 1915, welcomed my husband and me into her home. I had come bearing this photo of her.

Sicilian Woman, 98, copyright Jann HuizengaI’d snapped it back in November, startled by such a vision of deep calm.

When I hand it to her, Ignazia’s magnificent eyes blink on and off. “She looks like me!”

“She IS you, Signora.”

“Really?” She breaks into a giggle. “But I am not Signora. I am Signorina. I had a fidanzato once.” Her eyes are suddenly looking far away and she pulls her shawl closer. “He went to America. He wanted me to go with him, but I was afraid.”

So gentle Ignazia lived out her life next door to a parish church in Sicily, where she threw herself into keeping church floors polished and teaching all the little Antonios and Antonellas the rules of their religion in catechism classes. She is proud of her story.

Church bells shatter our conversation, and Ignazia hands us a bowl of candy. Then off we go, chewing on lemon drops, with Ignazia in our hearts.


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