Now & Forever ABCs (Nonnino)

Amadeo Marzio Isaia Constellino

4 December 1947
Roman Catholic

Amadeo grew up in Propriano, Corsica.  The family held strong ties back to Italy, despite their home being part of France and so taught their children Corsican, and Italian first, French last.  He was the son of a fisherman and spent quite a lot of time on the water helping his father as did many of his siblings.

Amadeo never spent much time in school, but he was an avid reader, able to devour whole books in, often, a matter of hours.  He love histories, especially those centred on the ancient Greeks with their great Spartan warriors and their noble philosophers, as well as the Romans and their conquest of the world.  He also became addicted to Marx brothers comedies, despite never having learnt a polite word of English — he heartily enjoyed them translated into Italian and made quite a practice of imitating the great Groucho Marx.

When he was seventeen he moved to Naples to try to make his fortune.  A brother of one of his friends owned a little coffee shop and agreed to give the young man work to keep him from starving.  Soon Amadeo proved indispensable to Raul and started to be thought of as an adopted son or baby brother — Raul’s wife, Josée, frequently inviting the cavalier young man to dinner.  Amadeo found himself with ever greater pay and responsibility at the café, and supplemented himself with music — something he had always held a great talent for.  Raul and Josée tried to talk him into becoming a professional musician, but Amadeo preferred to keep his music spontaneous and fun, something he felt could only happen if he were sitting on the city pavements or beneath the trees of a park.

Eventually a young woman attending college in the city visited the shop and caught Amadeo’s eye.  As he handed her the cappuccino and biscotti she’d ordered he asked her to a movie.  She refused, but did frequent the shop.  Amadeo would converse with her as he could, asking her to the movies from time to time and often refusing to charge her for her orders.  Raul didn’t mind this, the young woman often brought friends and Amadeo was a hard worker and a good man who more than made up for the cost of one woman’s coffee (and Raul wasn’t blind, so encouraged Amadeo’s attempts to get the lady’s attention).

Eventually he wrote a song, and brought his guitar to the shop, determined to do so every day until she next came.  He only had to wait two days.   Josée took over waiting and bussing the tables for him while he played for the young Rachele and the half dozen other patrons present, including the young man who Rachele had brought along to study with.  When he was finished, Amadeo extended, again, his invitation for a night at the cinema.  This time she accepted.

They fell in love, they married, and — as is often the course of such things — had many children.

He continued to work with Raul, becoming manager of the shop he met Rachele in when Raul decided to open a second shop in another part of the city, and then became co-owner of the two, and eventually sole owner when none of Raul’s own children took interest in the coffee business and he was ready to retire.  Amadeo eventually opened a total of four shops and did well by his little family with them and through his wife’s shrewd talent for money management and investing.  He salary at the school helped a lot as well.

Amadeo was immeasurably fond of his grandchildren and often called them his treasures; he was ever a caring and devoted father and husband but, he said, grandchildren are all the fun and none of the responsibility and so the true treasure, value, and meaning to life.

Amadeo had been left with a weakened heart in his twenties by an accidental case of lead poisoning.  On 24 August 2008 he died in his sleep of heart failure.

Sally had always been the closest of his grandchildren, an irony not missed on the pair given that she was — physically — his most distant grandchild.  The two shared a bond as she was so clearly a female clone of himself, irreverent and cheeky, but sweet and caring; fond of laughing and determined the the mysteries of life and the universe can be unravelled with music.  He had been surprised to learn that Salencia had taken an interest in the young girls of her classes, rather than the young boys, but he never said anything against it — he never said a word about it at all to anyone except a few quiet and private ones with Rachele.

Now & Forever ABCs (Nonnina)

Rachele Carmen Agata Constellino née Gentile

5 March 1947
Roman Catholic

Rachele was born and raised in AgrigentoSicily, Italy to a family that was not well off, but was well to-do enough that they always had plenty of good food, and had no trouble keeping clothes on their backs.

She was the second youngest of eight children, and the third — and youngest — daughter.  She is rather well educated, her father adamant that a good wife should also have a good mind, so made certain she got to  and did well in school and encouraging her to attend college when she was offered a scholarship to Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples.  There she studied Letters (Literature) and earned a degree as well as meeting a young fisherman’s son who was working in a coffee house while studying history at, in his words, L’Università della Biblioteca Civica (The University of the Public Library).  His name was Amadeo Constellino, a Corsican who’d come to the city to make his fortune.

Amadeo made a determined effort to win the affection and hand of the charming young Sicilian girl he’d met; and she was quite popular with the lads being both beautiful and an incomparable cook as well as, as her father had predicted, witty and intelligent … many a young man would try again harder to win her attentions after a sharp-tongued rebuke from her it making her that much more an alluring challenge.

Amadeo supplemented his pocketbook with busking in parks and on the street, being a remarkably good guitarist, even writing his own songs.  Rather than stubborn determination (because Rachele had turned down his first request to take the pretty college girl to a movie) he took a subtler approach:  not charging her for her orders at the little café, and by writing her a song which he convinced the owner of the shop (the eldest brother of one of Amadeo’s childhood friends) to let him perform the next time she came in.  She finally agreed to the movie.

The couple was married a year and a half later and went on to have five children.  She worked as a school teacher and he eventually found himself manager, then owner of the café.

Rachele has always been a strict and opinionated woman, sharp tongued and sharp witted she kept her family in line and got them all, even her carefree and religiously lackadaisical husband, to Mass regularly (and for both husband and children, frequent trips to the confessional — her children being a little much like Amadeo, at times).

When Amadeo died the couple had already been retired for a number of years, he having given the café over to a daughter-in-law, and she having earned her pension from the school.  In 2008 Rachele was widowed by Amadeo’s weakening heart finally giving up.

She does not approve of Sally’s sexuality, because she does so deeply love her grandchildren and she is concerned for the young girl’s soul.  She has long prayed that it was merely a childish phase that her granddaughter was going through and eventually would grow out of once she’d met a good man — after all, she loved and admired Amadeo, and is so very fond of so many of her uncles, her father, and her male cousins (Rachele having a vague notion that lesbians must, inherently, dislike men in general).  It was a shock to her when Sally told her about Lauren, but still she loved her Salencia and became so much more determined to pray for the girl — a good child, really, but clearly corrupted from living in that Godless country her daughter-in-law had dragged her son and grandchild to (she loves Zoë like a daughter, but considers the woman to be quite insane at times — a sentiment that Zoë is wont to agree with).