My last living grandparent is gone. My grandmother was an amazing woman. She was always giving to others and always wanting the best for her children and grandchildren, her sisters, nieces and nephews, and cousins. Always praying for us. Worrying about us on the road, in the rain, and just in life.
She was born in 1923 in Lake Charles, Louisiana as Leboria Bertha DiGiglia, but she’s always been known as Bert. Her parents were Sam DiGiglia and Mary Tempa. Sam was born in Sicily and moved to Louisiana where he met Mary, whose parents Nicola Tempa and Brigita Margiotta were also born in Sicily. Louisiana seemed to attract many Sicilian families who had ventured to America. Once they got there, they all stayed connected and would visit each others families. When my grandmother was a young child, the story goes that she was standing on a soapbox at the kitchen counter when another family came to visit. That family had three sons with them, all a fair bit older than my grandmother, but she said then, “I’m going to marry that boy.” Years later she did.
When my grandmother was about 18, her Aunt Sarah convinced her to take a trip up to Shreveport with her. While there, she just happened to sprain her ankle right outside a doctor’s office. Thanks to Aunt Sarah, that lovely doctor came to help and fixed up my grandmother’s ankle. When she asked how they could pay him back for helping her, the good doctor simply said, “Don’t worry about it. Some day, your husband can take care of the bill.” Not long after that they were married.
She married Dr. Luke M. Marcello on June 15, 1941. They were blissfully in love. They had five children, Leo, Ann, Mary Jane, Sam and Chris. When my grandmother was 48, she lost her husband and when she was 82, she lost her eldest son. She grieved for them as everyone who knew them did, but she lost a piece of herself when her husband and son died. She always had smiles and laughs and hugs for us, and hopefully she’s doing the same with them now.
I miss her terribly already and I hope to share her legacy with the next generation. Her death has made me want to return to this quest back to my Italian heritage. To hold onto a piece of her and the family that came before us. We’ll see where it takes me.
Here’s the link to her obituary.