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Writing the Family Story (Part 2 of 4)

As my mother’s words flowed around me on a hot summer’s afternoon, I felt delighted and fascinated. Finally, I was gathering information to incorporate into and publish my first book; the (hi)story of my family. Just like in my childhood, I reverted to regarding my subject from a distance almost as if displaced from the tale that was unfolding. But my mother’s melodious Italian accented English would become peppered with Italian phrases when recalling some of her childhood memories or, her courtship with my father. How could I remain coldly aloof?

My gorgeous mum, Mariolina (Iucci) Martore, in her late teens, at the beach in Northern Italy (circa 1952)

My mother is the storyteller and she drew me in. That’s when I realised, the story had to be related from her perspective; It was her life. That childish innocence, blossoming womanhood, attraction to an older man whom as a teenager had gone into the war and disappeared for over six years; he’d then returned and come into her life as something totally foreign and fascinating. I knew then that the story had to be narrated from my mother’s perspective.

But I still had copious notes jumbled up and driven by my mother’s remembrances. A whirlpool of interlinking episodes twined back and forth between her childhood and her relationship with my father. There were also introspections and some revelations that surprised her as well as me. In the end, some of these would not be included in the published book for this is a family story after all. Telling everything would have been disrespectful to both my mum and dad. As gatekeeper for this story, I had a responsibility not only to my mum but to my two sisters and to our children. For this is how the idea had started - a legacy for the family. True accounts from the past that would not be forgotten for future generations.

But still the dilemma of how the story would play out. Should I start at the end and come back to the beginning? Should I analyse it from a Freudian perspective making claims about why my mother was attracted to a man who was thirteen years her senior, and whose personality was the complete opposite to hers?

In the end, two of my own traits determined the outcome. As someone for whom structure has become important in my job, the chronological order presented a tidy solution. I also justified this as I could trace events historically ensuring they sat within global events such as Mussolini’s death and public hanging, and the atrocity of Pearl Harbour. The other element was the overriding love that interlinks these events. The strong bond between my mum, her mother, and her Nonna; a mother’s love for her teenage son; then the love that grew between my parents. I’m a romantic at heart after all!

Well that seemed it then. I had everything I needed. But somehow, the first draft of the book was just a nice story. More like romantic fiction than anything else. Then, it was my mother’s 80th birthday. Instead of her visiting with me in Australia, as had happened at the beginning of this writing journey, I went to visit with her in the United Kingdom. This resulted in an amazing revelation which dramatically added that extra element, but which also caused me to become emotional.

Marisa Parker - Author

Part 3 released on January 12th, 2018


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