Friday, June 3, 2011

The Satisfaction of Tenacity! We did It!

There are 45,000 graves in the Italian Cemetery in Colma, CA. Today we went to the grave of Jim's great uncle that we found and purchased this marker for last week. As far as we know right now, 3 of those resting here, are our family members. If you missed the entry on how we found this 103 year-old, unmarked grave you can read about it here. Never, never, never give up!

The marker could not accommodate his full name.
I am kind of glad because with all the confusion
over his name some like Peter, some like Pietro,
but me...I like Petey Franchini!

The little marker is not fancy but it means a lot to us. This little, 8 day old infant died a pretty terrible death and we felt such joy in knowing he can at least be found now for future generations. And that we could pay our respects to him today by visiting and laying some flowers on his grave. His name is Pietro "Peter" Franchini and he was born in San Francisco, CA on July 20, 1908. He died at 12:30 am on July 29, 2008 of a severe intestinal disorder and pulmonary complications.

His parents were Pietro and Catterina (Lagomarsino) Franchini, of San Colombano, Genova, Italy. At the time of his death he had one older sister, Margherita Emma Franchini, age 5, (married name Marguerite Ferrera) who lived out her life as an only child. She tried to find his grave as an adult but was never successful. But today her daughter, grandson and I paid that long over due visit for her.

Pietro's niece, Gloria, placing flowers on his grave.

Jim, Pietro's great nephew happy to find him
now and finally dedicate his grave!

When we came last week we were slightly off in the location of the unmarked grave. We had the right area but discovered today that although we were in the right row, we were down a few from the right plot. This place is actually much nicer, more private and protected by a larger headstone behind it with a little lamb on top (love that!) and right near this crypt. It is just more protected from the wind and elements and when the sun is shining it illuminates the stained glass window in the crypt. It was amazing to stand on the same ground these ancestors had stood sorrowing, as they laid their precious baby boy and only son to rest.

While we were there we wanted to go to the crypt where one of Jim's great uncles on his maternal grandfather's side is buried with his wife. Gloria's cousin, Lorraine lives in Mill Valley today. We left them some flowers as well. I never did meet Uncle Louie (from Tasso, Italy) as he died the year Jim and I met. But I did know his great aunt Theresa and attended her funeral. I heard the most beautiful rendition of Ava Maria I have ever heard in my life that day and still remember it very well. She was a lovely lady. Jim's mom told me her uncle Louie had a great sense of humor; he was apparently a real character. This Louis is not Jim's grandfather's brother but possibly a cousin of his. Some Italians call their aunts "Lala" and their uncles "Baba" but these terms may have been used unofficially in the case of Baba Louie and Lala Theresa. We are calling their daughter this week to get a clarification on this relationship.

We have really enjoyed researching and learning more about those who have gone before us and are a part of our family's heritage. We've got the real "Roots" thing going on over here. Yet another fun thing we enjoy doing together now that we have the great blessing of discretionary time for such important things.

P.S. Would it be weird to tell you we had a little picnic at the cemetery? It sounds a little creepy and I thought it might be, but oddly it seemed very fitting, very normal and just fine. There is a tiny road right near the grave. Jim set up a little makeshift table and we just stood and ate and talked about the family and it was neat. OK, I might as well show you a picture so you won't think we were sprawling out on the grass or anything really weird like that!

I think maybe Jim's mom probably
wouldn't adore this photo,
but I am safe she doesn't have a computer!

She was playing bocce ball with her
old Italian cronies this morning
in the drizzle for three hours before we came here.
She is pretty amazing for nearly 85!
I hope Jim and all our kids and grandkids
inherited her health and longevity!


LA Adams said...

I think this is terrific that you have found this little guy! As for picnics in the cemetery, my family routinely visits my dad grave and have a picnic while we talk about stories of his life.

Bonnie said...

Oh good, Linda Ann, there is always that need to feel normal!

Marie said...

I think it's just wonderful that you were able to carry this through to fruition! How special and meaningful. I think a picnic was a wonderful way to celebrate and why not in the graveyard! It is a place to celebrate life. xxoo

Sister Susie said...

I remember as a teenager, my friends being "afraid" to go into grave yards. I would always tell them, "Fear not, for Christ overcame the grave" One day at the Trumpet sound those belonging to Christ will rise from the grave in new bodies that will never again know the fallen state of sin! We too will be caught up changing in the twinkling of an eye! It will be a great gathering of all of our passed relatives and friends! The greatest thing of all, we won't have to ask who they are (not having ever seen them) for GOD will have place in our knowledge as if we had always known them!!
Love to you and yours,

Julie Harward said...

Way to go you guys...what a precious find too. I love cemetaries, they are peaceful places to me. :D