Saturday, May 21, 2011

To 100 ...and Beyond!

On May 24, 1914, Elizabetta Cecelia Bevacqua was born in a little mining town in Tabasco, Colorado, the third child of Attilio and Lucretia Bevacqua.In the early 1900's, her parents had emigrated from Calabria, the most southern tip of Italy. They came separately and years apart. Her father made a fortune in the oil and mining business and sent for his wife and young son. Together, they had four more children.  Atillio's luck ran out in Colorado and they lost it all. He gathered his family up and moved to Dallas  where he had originally made his mark.
Attilio, Amelia, Josephine and Elissa

Elissa about 5
Elissa, as she came to be known, was remarkable from the start. She was exotically beautiful and full of energy and curiosity.  Her life has not always been easy. After the families sojourn back to Dallas, her father left his family when she was five. Her mother struggled to raise her 5 children by herself in a foreign land with limited personal resources. She was a skilled seamstress and found work at Neiman Marcus . it was especially difficult for her because she did not speak English. Some italian friends took her and her children under their wings and hired Lucrezia as a master seamstress in their furrier business. This helped provide for her brood but she could not properly feed and clothe them. She made the heartbreaking decision to place two of the children in the care of St. Joseph's Orphanage in Dallas. Not to be adopted, but to be cared for until she could take care of them herself. This took many years.
Mom and her little sister, Josephine, were placed in the orphanage in the  care of  the nuns. My grandmother took several streetcars to  visit them every week without fail. It must have been so difficult and heart wrenching for all of them. It has left an indelible mark on the fabric of their lives. But they survived .
Mom with her friends at St.  Joseph's.
Elissa and Amelia
When she was a young woman, my mother came to California to find her father. He had been living here for many years, had remarried, and had a young son. During this trip, my mother’s destiny was sealed. On a sunny Sunday afternoon she went with a friend to a barbeque and there she met her future. My father fell in love with her at first site. He always said it was her beauty that captured his attention first, but the deal was sealed when she ordered a chocolate shake made with chocolate ice cream. He knew he had met his soul mate.  When she left to go back to Dallas, my father took her to the train and ran past her car waving goodbye as far as his legs would take him. Being the romantic, impulsive man that he was, a few weeks later he went to Dallas to surprise her. Her walked into the store where she worked and asked her to go with him for a milkshake . He proposed on the spot.

The rest is history!

On her 90th birthday, my sister and brother-in-law had a party for Mom with many of her friends and family. My sister and I took her to Hawaii a few days later. She had never had a desire to visit Hawaii but she ended up loving it. We had so much fun and so many happy memories from that trip.

Blowing out 90 candles

Waikiki beauty at 90

On her 96th birthday, my sister took Mom, her daughter, Ria, and myself to Italy for an adventure. Again, it was a time we all will never forget.
Tina, Mom and Julie in cooking class in Tuscany

Ria, Julie, Tina

Throwing a coin in the Trevi fountain, to return to Rome again!

Mom never ceases to amaze all of us with her energy, her passion for life, her love and loyalty to family and friends. She is engaging and engaged. Everyone that meets her falls in love, just like our Dad over 70 years ago.
Still a beauty at 97

Happy 97th Birthday, Mom. I Love You and look forward to many years ahead. You are my inspiration and I pray that I enjoy the good health and longevity that you have been blessed with. Keep on being the free spirit that we all want to be!!!!!!!
It's never too late to try out a Harley!


Alfonso Cevola said...

Thanks, Sis, great post - you are awesome, like our mom!

Anita said...

That's beautiful, Julie. Wishing your Mom a wonderful birthday. God bless her, she is amazing.

Judy Hartman said...

Oh, I just loved reading this, Julie! Thank you so much for sharing your mother and her story with us! She is inspiring, as are you!!
My grandparents also came from Italy (Bari), endured hardships and raised 6 children here, but they were fortunate enough to have had each other. How brave your grandmother was, and how proud she would be of her family today!
Happy Birthday to your Mom!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the beautiful tribute,Sister. As usual your blog captures the essence of others. Mom is an inspiration to us all and someone we hope to emulate. Happy Birthday, dear Mother and here's to many more trips and good times together!xoxoxo

Christina said...

That comment is from your sister Tina. I accidentally pressed anonymous!

Crosby Kenyon said...

I don't know when a ninety-seven year old ever looked so good.

Marlane Miriello said...

Happy Birthday dear Elissa! Thanks for shining your light into my life!

Much love,

carol agriesti said...

How beautiful. And so blessed to know the lovely family that came from this bright star. Tears of love~carol

Anonymous said...

Oh mom.....I have no words. This so touches me. I would have loved to write beautiful words on the legacy left of a mother who left way too soon. I love how you capture Nona's life...........She is so blessed to have a daughter as you.


Tanti auguri dalla Fonte e grazie ancora per l'esempio di vita che avete portato sino a Radicondoli da dove vi inviamo un augurio grande a tutta la vostra bella famiglia esempio di armonia che contagia!
Emanuela anche per Marco Francesca e la Fonte tutta

Debbie Cumming said...

Julie, thanks for the wonderful story and beautiful pictures. I would love to see more. Happy Birthday, Aunt Elissa and many more!

Patti Mayer said...

Dear Julie,
thanks for sharing this wonderful true story of a truly special and wonderful mother! Happy Birthday Elissa. I will never forget our time in Italy and the great friends and memories created there. I do not believe in coincidences - this meeting of hearts was meant to happen. What a beautiful writer you are, Julie. You are so beautiful and talented and so kind and generous to others!
Love to all of you,
Patti Mayer