This Week I’m Judianne

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I’m going to get called Judianne a lot this week.  That’s how names were when I was a kid…they were a mash-up of your first and last names.  Not necessarily your full names or I would be Judith Anne and I can never EVER once remember being called Judith by any member of my family.  Judith is my doctor’s office name.  My brother was Joeymark and my cousin was Donnypaul…mash-up names.

My beloved uncle passed away yesterday, poetically, on the golf course.  He was my mother’s brother-in-law and we lived next door to them nearly my whole life.  We lived in this Kennedy-esque first generation Italian American suburban grouping of homes built by my uncles.  My mother had two sisters – one lived next door to me and the other one, across the street.  Their mother, my grandmother, lived next door to me on the other side.  My mother also has four brothers, three of whom lived in the neighborhood within a short walk or even shorter bike ride.

One of the best things I can say about our childhood is that we didn’t know how lucky we were.  If we did then we knew other people didn’t live with their relatives and have cousins more like brothers and sisters.  I didn’t live in a house with a real neighbor (one I wasn’t related to) until I was 25 years old!).  We were loved, protected and blessed with comforts of life.  The in-ground swimming pool was in my back yard.  The basketball court was next door and the fort was behind my cousin’s house across the street.

My hair was never dry all summer and sometimes we got to swim with the light on late at night (probably 10:00pm!).  Every weekend, and I mean EVERY weekend in the summer there were hot dogs and hamburgers eaten in the breezeway with all of my cousins.  There were 19 of us and we were together all of the time.  We laughed and we fought, we played games and we got in trouble for horsing around.  We were in each other’s weddings then life happened and we grew apart. 

This picture is in the breezeway in 1962.  My sister was not born yet and I was the youngest of the “older” cousins.  Seven boys and two girls…from top left: Joeymark (my late brother Joe), cousins Donny, Davey and Donnypaul…second row from left: cousins Richard, Michael, me and cousins Sharon and Benjie.  Uncle Ben was Davey and Benjie’s dad.  He was a bricklayer by trade and a contractor by profession.  He was loud and soft-hearted (always cried when I sang Ave Maria!) and I loved him with all of my heart!

But, when something like a death or other disaster happens, we sit together at someone’s kitchen table, comparing notes about life today then reminisce about those breezeway days long ago.

Uncle Ben – it’s Judianne and I want you to know how much I loved you, even when you yelled at me at the pool.  You will be missed…

Life is good!

Jude

Twitter: MidMajorMom

Twitter: JudeCaserta

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6 thoughts on “This Week I’m Judianne

  1. aunt jude…
    this was an awesome post :) thanks so much to you and uncle tom for being there yesterday and for all of the great food that you brought…i’ll be seeing you a lot this week…

  2. I love that picture! And I agree that you guys seemingly had an amazing childhood. It’s such a blessing to grow up with the cushion, support and love from a big family. We are Blessed! We will see you soon, love you.

  3. Judianne, We did have the best childhood one can imagine. Even though he is gone, I will forever hear my dad yelling at me around the pool when “I didn’t do nothin!!” because you always started it! I will deeply miss him. Dad – I will always love you for making me the person I am today, and for the never ending list I ca compile of your great qualities. Love You Dad, Benjie

  4. Jude,
    Fabulous!! I could not have said it better! We had an unbelievable childhood! On Saturday morning Aunt Mary and I were talking on the phone about how very precious family is and how it is truly the cornerstone of our family existence! These are the times when it is very difficult to be far away, but in a few short hours I too will be with all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews etc… reminiscing of the pool, lunches, dinners, sheet pies and coffee, always coffee, etc….. I will forever hear Uncle Ben with that firm “Carolyn…..” when it was Robbie that had ALWAYS started it.
    Uncle Ben, you were like a second father. Both you and Aunt Mary mean the world to me. More then you will ever know! I love you both from the bottom of my heart!
    To my family, every one of you! I can not wait to be with you all.
    Love,
    Carolyn

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