In December 2015, I was in hospice with my mom, Viola Evola. We loved to speak at night and talk about her life and sometimes mine.
I loved her so much.
I asked her a question. I said, “Mommy, do you remember when I was little, there was a woman who told me that I had this big mission...that I was a great artist?
She replied that she did remember and that I was four at the time. When I was little, I understood Italian. The woman was dressed all in black and spoke an exotic language, looking down on me and speaking to me directly.
I asked my Mother, why I liked her.
My mom said that the woman, named Maria carried bread on her head. Her husband’s name was Ralph. They lived near us.
It was 1954 in the old Italian neighborhood where many of the people had come directly from Italy or their parents had...and some of them had also recently returned from World War II.
My father Sam Evola has recently returned from several years in Guadal Canal.
My mom was my dad’s best friend. They fell in love and married and I was the first of their children to arrive.
I remember those days keenly. So much love and beauty. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. For the beginning of my life, I felt protected, cherished and loved. I knew who I was and what place in the world I belonged.
If you see The Godfather films and see early New York City at the turn of the century, you see the Italians coming from Italy. Some stayed in New York, my family came through Ellis Island to Chicago’s South Side.
When I grew up, I remember the beauty, the food and the warmth. It was heaven.