Being a grandmother is a wondrous thing. It really brings to mind the passage of time, but in a good way … how life goes on and that there is a future that contains an essence of oneself; a legacy—across the generations. Last month, our daughter gave birth to our first grandchild (the first on my side of the family). Florence is part of Generation Alpha: Hope and new beginnings after the trials that affected us all globally. When my mother heard the news, joyful tears streaked her face. Florence Iucci (middle name) has a powerful Italian ring to it even if she is an Australian native; it is a tribute across generations. Iucci was the nickname that my dad created when she started working with him, as an innocent 18-year-old in Torino, Italy. Then, it became a term of endearment, as their love for each other grew. Sadly, my parents’ parents are all long gone, as is my dad. They will never celebrate the new generations that have sprung up in Africa (where I was born) and now here in Australia … but that is the way of life. Iucci, whose given name is Maria, is Florence’s great-granny (bisnonna), yet, she lives far away, in Cape Town, South Africa. Nevertheless, with such fabulous online platforms, distances are overcome, and generations can share in special moments such as a (great) grandchild. Below is an extract from the first book, Goodbye to Italia, when my dad came up with the nickname, Iucci.
It is during a lunchbreak one day that Eugenio surprises her with the statement that, as she is almost an adult now, the name Mariolina is that of a child.
Looking at him askance, she retorts. ‘Well, my name is actually Maria.’
‘Hmm, yes … but, confusing isn’t it, what with your nonna being Donna Maria. What about Mari-uccia?’ But before Mariolina can respond, he interrupts, ‘No, no … that is too common. I think the name, Iucci, is far better. From now on, you shall be called Iucci,’ he declares with a broad smile.
Mariolina just stares at him, taken aback by the suddenness of this decision. He is still staring at her and she notices his piercing pale green eyes, so like his mother’s. They are crinkled up at the side as he smiles at her fondly. He gives her a wink and without further ado, walks away mumbling, ‘Iucci, Iucci, Iucci.’
Mariolina is perplexed but enthralled by his attention all the same. ‘Va bene. That’s okay,’ she responds, but Eugenio is already out of range.
It takes her a few days to get used to the name but Eugenio makes a point of correcting anyone who calls her Mariolina stating, ‘Her name is Iucci, now.’ In the face of such an assertion, no one argues.
When she tells Nonna and Mamma, they just shake their heads as they know the Piergiovannis have a penchant for nicknames.
‘I suppose at least it is quite a feminine name,’ muses Giuseppina.
‘It sounds like luce, lights,’ comments Nonna.
‘Well, I quite like that. And I am working in a shop that will soon be selling fashionable clothes, according to Eugenio’s plans for the future, so it is an elegant name.’