When Our Past Becomes Our Future

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As an author, my writings have, in the main, dealt with mental health issues and the mysteries of the human mind. Although it might appear that I am diverting from that theme in this article, I believe that there is a real emotional and intellectual connection nevertheless. This story was related to me by my mother many years ago involving her coming to theUnited Stateswith her parents from the Isle of Sicily. But first, let me relate just a little background.

My mother was an only child born to two people who decided to come to the land whose “streets were lined in gold.” My mother was about thirteen years old. Her father was considered a patrone or someone who had gained status in his community. She reported that he oversaw the operation of a brick making factory and rode atop a white palomino horse as he performed his duties. Apparently, he had an addiction to using “coarse, salty language” and his reputation followed him. In other words, he used profanity like a “drunken sailor.”

Their departure occurred during World War I and their crossing theAtlanticwas a harrowing experience. The deep waters were laden with German mines necessitating that a very careful route be taken by the ship’s captain. She reported hearing gun and canon fire in the distance which made her and her family’s emotions peak even more so. During what I presume to be a very frightening period aboard ship, with everyone crammed into very small spaces, my grandfather made a vow that if he and his family reached the shores of the new land safely, he would never use profane language again.

Obviously, they reached our shores safely, landing at Ellis Islandwhich was the usual landing for Europeans emigrating to this Country. After the gangplank was lowered allowing the immigrants to deploy, he walked down to terra firma, knelt down and kissed the ground. My mother reported that she never again heard him speak another swear word until the day of his death some years later. My memory of my grandparents is very slim since I was very young when they deceased. I believe that I missed the great opportunity being with two people who were reported to be very gentle and loving.

And now, the scene changes to the year 2000 when my wife and I decided to travel toItalyfor the centennial celebration and an audience with then Pope John Paul. Of course our audience was shared with thousands of other pilgrims but it was a very moving experience nevertheless. Although this was our primary motive for the trip, the secondary motive for me was equally important. That motive was to travel toSicilyand to the town ofVallelungawhere my parents were born. We ferried from the mainland to the Island and stayed in a hotel inMessina. While at the front desk, I was looking through the phone book and found two “Bonasera” names in the town of Vallelunga which peaked my interest.

We traveled the sharp and frightening “S” curves through the mountains, often without any roadside barriers preventing disaster, for over three hours before reaching our destination. The town was “announced” by a sign with its name surrounded by overgrown weeds. I left the car, walked to the sign, knelt down and kissed the ground with tears in my eyes while saying a silent prayer. And now, the circle of life was complete. I found one relative married to the mayor the town who graciously invited us into their home for a wonderful visit that culminated our experience. Truly my past had become my future.


Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.

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