Thursday, February 12, 2009

SAINT RINA



I had occasion this morning to update the post on my answers to the Professor Kingsfield Quiz with a very special picture, special enough that I wanted to redirect you back to take a look at it. When I wrote the answer to question #15, “Who is the one person, living or dead, famous or unknown, who most informed or encouraged your appreciation of movies?” I didn’t yet have a good picture of my paternal grandmother, Rina Trevisan Cozzalio, to go along with the post. Well, my aunt RaNae, Rina’s daughter and the official genealogist and family historian, dug back into the archives and came up with a real beauty-- a portrait of Grandma Rina at age 18, accompanied by an inset shot of her from three years earlier (where she looks very much like RaNae). Go back and take a look, won't you?

RaNae was also kind enough to send along the shot you see above, taken in 1961, of Grandma Rina standing in the garden of her modest home in Lakeview, Oregon, holding her first grandson (that'd be me) and looking pretty proud. This is the way I remember my grandma, and seeing the picture makes it very easy to remember what it felt like when she would hold me as a toddler and a little boy—she did so often, and she never let go past a chance to show me or any of her grandkids just how much she loved us. And even though she’s been dead for over 23 years now, Grandma Rina made such an impression on me that I still find it hard to fathom that she’s really gone, that when I return for a visit to my hometown I won’t be able to go by her house and show off my own beautiful daughters—her great-great grandchildren—to her and have her dote on them and smother them with unconditional love the way she did with me. Grandma Rina not only shaped my love for the movies, she shaped my outlook on life, which is probably why I can still sense her presence and why she remains so important to me. Her love of the movies qualifies her, along with a certain barrel-shaped Italian director who passed away not quite four years after she did, for patron saint status here at SLIFR. But her hard work and deep and abiding love for me and all of her family qualifies her for sainthood, period. Tonight my grandma and I will watch James Cagney in White Heat together, and I know I’ll think afterward about how much less I would have enjoyed it were it not for her.

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10 comments:

Lindsay Vivian said...

That's real sweet, thanks for sharing. I've been thinking about the family I've lost too, lately.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Thanks, Lindsay. I don't think there's been a day during the past 23 years that I haven't thought about her.

Peet Gelderblom said...

Awww, is that you, Dennis? You didn't change a bit. Just add a beard and a baseball cap and you're there. Lovely.

bill r. said...

Yeah, you didn't have to say that was you in your grandma's arms, Dennis. It's pretty obvious, after all.

Very nice post. I lost my mom about three years ago, and I think about her constantly.

Murray said...

Great picture and tribute to Grandma Rina. I remember Grandma Rina well. I remember spending time with you at her house where she always made me feel like one of her grandkids.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Peet: I had to resist the temptation to add the beard and glasses with Microsoft Paint.

Bill: I suspect you always will.

Murray: I know she thought of you as one of her own grandkids because she once told me so.

Ali Arikan said...

Wow, that's so very touching, Dennis. Thanks for sharing this with us.

p.saga said...

Dennis, what a wonderful story, and this photo is stunning, perfect. (Go, Dennis's aunt!)

I've been thinking about my Grammies a lot lately, wanting to get back to them for one more hug before they're gone.

Moonunit said...

Dennis Amen to that!! The look on Grandma's face says it all. She truly was a Saint. She was the matriarch/backbone of the familia. Her strong sense of love and family connection will never be forgotten. It is this same love and committment that will forever live on in the ones luck enough to be called family. To the ones that never had the priveledge (great-grandchildren)of experiencing Rina, don't worry. You are a living testimony to this love every time you are hugged and kissed. We are all truly blessed! Thanks for the memories Dennis.
Love, Meachell

Angie said...

I was born 10 years after that picture was taken of my big brother and my Grandma Rina. She still had lots of love to give, even to the last grandchild. I remember sitting with her on the couch, watching her favorite soap opera "All My Children" and eating Rolos, her favorite candy. What a treat - especially eating candy on her couch!! Thank goodness for those towels she had pinned to the cushions!