Sunday, October 13, 2019


Besides bringing cool, autumnal refreshment and colorful beauty, October brings anniversaries which ever are at the forefront of my mind. The casual observer would likely tell John to let go of the one and the modern secular would be baffled at the observance of the other. The world at large, Catholic or secular, doesn't usually appreciate or "get" people who have near photographic memories of the dates of events in one's life, but that's their problem.

The first day to recall is October 11, 1986. Thirty-three years have now passed since the great social and cultural upheaval of my early childhood in which the second and third generations of Neapolitan-Americans moved out of the somewhat ethnic Bronx into exurban NY. It could be argued then that the mid-Hudson Valley (more precisely Southern Dutchess County) was half-Upstate and hald-Downstate, but as waves of us city-dwellers flooded the bucolic lands leading up to the Taconics, that area is now firmly within the outer rings of suburban metropolitan NY, both culturally and even linguistically. The real, cultural Upstate-Downstate divide is further North, the border of Dutchess and Columbia counties. 

As one who is wont to decry both suburbanization and the transient American way of life over the last several decades, I am one of its very victims. At least in 1986, despite the cultural shift from city to suburbs, I still had another nine years to grow in age and wisdom (perhaps) in the same state and general nexus to my place of birth. More importantly, we were still close to and could enjoy the life of having extended family for holidays and other celebrations. That would all be destroyed in the great Trad-Migration of Ridgefield families to Post Falls in the mid-1990s. This week also marks that anniversary - the four-day drive across the country in the moving truck. From 1995, the futility of Trad-Utopia would morph into a life which became unrooted. For almost 25 years, I have never truly felt at home anymore in any place I've lived. But sadly this does not mean that returning to NY would fix this, because even my homeland is laid waste; there is no longer the extended family presence there and so much else of that original state of things from my childhood no longer exists. 

The moral is not to succumb to transient uprooting way of life and to restore roots for future generations. That is how civilization is restored, to say nothing of realizing a Catholic society. The problem with Trad-Utopia is that, like much else in Tradistan, it is built of a supernatural ideal whilst ignoring and not building on the natural - in this case, natural, family roots in a particular geography.

The other anniversary is of October 13, 1992. Twenty-seven years ago this day, my grandmother, Lucille, passed from this life at the age of 68. Her passing was the first real experience of death I encountered. Last evening and this morning, the Office of the Dead was appended to the Sunday's Hours as I do every year. Please say a prayer for her repose. 

My grandmother's passing does play into the above reflections, though. She died right at the time when the old order was in its last gasps; in fact, her death hastened the break up of the extended family life. Her funeral is to this day the last time I ever saw several of the other relatives; today most of them are also deceased while my distant cousins are scattered to the four ends of the country oblivious to their family's origins or the old way of life of the ethnic, Neapolitan Catholic diaspora. All of us have become homogenized, rootless Americans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post sounds like my Life.

"Home...I have no Home."

Keep the faith my friend.
God bless.