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Liza's Story of how she found her cousins in Abruzzo,Italy

Who am I?Where are my Roots?Where do I belong? (Chapter 1)

It all started back in 1976,I was 12 years old. My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. We were at the Nursing home in Lorain,Ohio, visiting my Grand Mother Nunziata. My only memories were or her in that nursing home. I was told a few years back that her stroke was brought on by my parents divorce back in 1966. We were saying our Good-Byes to Grandma,for my mother was re-marrying and we were moving away. The whole time we were with Grand Mother she was grabbing my hand so hard and crying. It was one of the saddest days of my life. My family snapped a photo of us with her, and that photo is on my wall,its full of sadness but a rememberance of the last time I'd ever see her. We left.We moved to Arkansas eventually settling in Missouri.I always thought of Nunziata a lot. No one ever told me when she passed away. And no one ever told me when my Grand Father Ciriaco passed away either (her husband).I felt very deprived my whole life for never going to the funerals of my most cherrished people,but, they were alive in my heart more than we all new. Many years passed. My other grand mother brought me a suitcase that had been in her basement for years.I asked her what was in it and she just said,"Some old things of your mothers that I wanted you to have."I took the suitcase and I put it in my closet. I had forgot it was there. We were spring cleaning one day and here was this suitcase. Well, I did!!!!! I got curious and I opened it up.It was pure confusion... Here was my Italian Grand Parents with other people who looked like my Grand Father Ciriaco.I could not believe my eyes. I had around 40 photos of my Italian family and they were from 1956 and preserved like they were taken yesterday. I had a couple of names,dates and Pennsylvania to go by. In one of the photo's my Grand Father Ciriaco was standing with a man that looked like him,very much!I could not believe my eyes. With a little help from my only living Uncle, these were pictures from a famiy reunion in 1956 and we had family in Pennsylvania.Well, I started writing letters by the 100's.I finally found my relatives,very much alive and living.It was Ciriaco's brother Francesco's line of the family. A few days later I received my Grand Father Ciriaco's birth certificate in the mail,from my Uncle.It listed his birth village named Torrevecchia Teatina,Chieti,Italy. Now, I had a birthplace. I wrote to the registry office in this village and requested for my family's birth certificates.A few weeks went by and in checking the mail,there was this thick yellow envelope. I couldn't handle the pressure,I tore into it. Here was my family information. Not 1 or 2 children,but, Ciriaco had *7* brothers and sisters in his family.Now,I am jumping in the air with so much excitement!!!!!I wrote to the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City,Utah. I requested the telephone pages for this little village and many cities around this little village.I recieved the telephone pages back. Now,I write one letter of all my family information and I send it to EVERY family with the Surnames of Di Credico,Pietrocola,Petrongolo,Rabottini, etc...Yes, I write to over 200 families and Yes In Italian,one word translation at a time. I mailed all of these letters. One by one I did recieve letters back wether they were related or not.I figure I did accomplish 3 things> 1.) I found my real Italian Cousins 2.) I found many Pen Pals and 3.)I found people who wanted to be related with hope of more generations of searching connecting our families. After a while letters were just not enough.My curiousity's were starting to overwhelm me.I picked up the telephone and dialed each newly found cousins numbers one at a time. I'm thinking I am going to learn a lot from this phone call,right? Well each one would pick up the telephone and I am trying to talk to them but they can only say "Pronto,Ciao or No Capito!" I was jumping the gun. I felt so quilty inside for not knowing the Italian Language. I had it all, but I couldn't make them understand that I cared and loved them. They would call me and go through the same feelings. I cried a lot while on the telephone with each one,but, I tried to not let them catch on to my true feelings. I just wanted to hear their voices, while on the telephone. I purchased a dictionary of Italian words. I wanted to learn the Italian languge,but,no schools where I live teach it.My curiousity's start to kick in again. I wonder what my cousins looked like,each one of them. I picked up the telephone and I purchase 2 airline tickets. My cousins wanted me to wait until summer,but,by my story, you should know me by now.I purchase 2 tickets for March, Yes March. I took my brother with me,as a present.This was a trip we could share the memories together to make up for what we lost out on as small children.We were full of anxiety!

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Who am I?Where are my Roots?Where Do I belong? (Chapter 2)

We get on the airplane, leaving for places unknown to us. It had been 85 years since, last family contact with my Grand Father since he immigrated to the United States when he was 17 years of age.The airplane was running behind in landing time,so,I knew my whole family of cousins were already at the airplort. We got off of the airplane.We were so nervous!I kept thinking to myself,"Will they like me? What will they think of us?" We walked down this hallway at the airport,it felt like it was never going to end. Finally, at the end of this hall our family was waiting. I knew who they were,they were screaming,"Liza,Liza,Liza!" and we got squeezed about 50 times,so hard. But,I had to look down at all of my cousins. They are all so short, this is what puzzles me, is why everyone in my Family is so short? I thought I knew enough Italian to get by, but, when your with people speaking Italian fluently, I knew glancing at my brother, that we were in a lot of trouble. If my brother could only of read my mind.We spent out first day in Rome. Our Cousins had rented a small bus so that we could all travel together while in Rome. We parked the bus and we took off on foot.Me and my brother grabbed our camera's and video camera's snapping the cousins and the city when we could.Italy is such a proud city and beauty surrounded Italy everywhere we went.While walking around Rome,we noticed the cars were so small.The people were friendly.Our first time to eat out with our family was at an Italian Outdoor Restaraunt. I thought it was wonderful to eat outside. The glasses,wine,place setting and food was to the most elegant I have ever seen!I found people that were very proud of their heritage and expected the best out of life.And in Italy Family Seems to be Everything in their lives!We make it back to the cousins house, so tired and thinking we were going to rest now.Well, we had to think twice.They opened the doors and here comes a house full of people ready to visit. My eyes got so big.Every Cousin was talking to me in fluent Italian. When they were done they kept saying"Capito and Comprehendo?"I didn't know what to say. After all the company left,it was time to rest.Me and my brother went upstairs. We were so excited we could not sleep. We talked and talked.We wern't worried,we were going to get to sleep in......However, the cousins had other plans. Our alarm clocks went off(they set them for us!).And when the clocks went off they were ready to go!Here comes Tommaso all slicked up and ready to go for the day. We went from House to House visiting.Drinking Veno,Coffee,Veno,Coffee..... On my trip,while in Italy, I met the most loving,caring,proud people I had ever met in my WHOLE LIFE! These people are so "Special" to me.It's hard to explain my LOVE for THEM! With each new cousin I met, the tears of love would roll down my face as well as theirs.It was hard to take! It all took a toll on me. We were visiting relatives of a cousin I found in America and my Heart started beating so fast! I could not control it, so they took me to the hospital. It kept getting faster and faster. When we got to the hospital,I was worried about how I was going to pay the bill for the hospital.I didn't know the Country pays for the medical care! Yes, it was all very scarey.The doctor looked at me and said "What is your name?" I understood him. I said "Lisa DeCredico!" He looked at me and said,"Oh Torrevecchia!" He knew all about me.I was wondering what school he graduated from. After some tests were run, they got my heart under control. Doctor says,"She is to have sleep,no mountains,no coffee, no veno and minimal visiting." It was caused by to much stress.......... The doctor let me leave the hospital for he felt that being seperated from my newly found family would be worse on me stress wize.Our plans had been to visit the mountains of snow covered tips,but, we settled for visiting with more family members,this is truely why I was in Italy any way. Well, being in Italy for a good part of the week, I was starting to understand what my cousins were saying to me,as long as they slowed their words down.I was even starting to pick up a little accent as I learned to pronounce their words,in Italy. It was time for my husband to call. He would see how my trip was going. He calls and he is trying to talk to me. I start to answer him in sketchy but italian accent words. He says to me,"Lisa is that you?" I said,"Si,Si,Si!" He doesn't know any of the language.I told him that I loved my family and that I would be home soon,that everything was fine!So, we hung up. I knew he was so confused,thinking, my wife, she is not the same person as when she left! Now,we were off to visit Adalgisa.We made ourselves at home.We were all visiting and out of the blue, my cousin Adalgisa gives us 3 big envelopes. One for Liza,one for David and one for Tommaso and Maria(our cousins whom are taking care of us all week).We all looked at eachother. Adalgisa,she speaks fluent Italian,but, the motions of her hands,were enough to tell me that we should open the envelopes! Yes,we opened the envelopes. Here is what I had dreamed about!It was a photo of our Great Grand Mother Maria Pietrocola. She was sitting on a stool,holding a grandson(whom is still alive and in his 70's).She has on a long dress,some jewelry on and her hair is pulled up in a bun.She was perfect,just as I imagined her, Just Beautiful!!!!!This is the only photo in existance,so far! I looked at my cousin and tears flowed into my eyes and down my cheeks. I hugged her so hard. I was learning that a hug is how they show their feelings of love in Italy.I have never experienced hugs like this in America. Gee, I was turning into a real Italian. It was wonderful!

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Who am I?Where are my Roots?Where do I belong? (Chapter 3)

We all went for a walk,up and down the busy streets of Chieti. The hand- bricked streets and alleys were full of history.Adalgisa takes us into this store.The man locks the door behind us. Me and my brother are wondering what we stepped into. This other man sets a big velvet bulky package down on the table in front of us. He starts to unroll this red velvet item,slowly. When he gets done,he flips the cloth over from being doubled. Here is at least 40 pockets full of Gold items. Earrings,rings, pins,etc...were inside each pocket. She is purchasing a pair of Gold earrings for Liza and a Gold ring for David. We made a few more stops where she purchased a sweater for me and an outfit for David. She also picked up other presents for my family in the United States. She was so proud and full of joy to do these things for us, we accepted them with much Thanks!All week our cousins took us to the "Best" Restaraunts and meeting cousins to eat with each time. At one of the restaraunts Adalgisa had arranged a cake that was brought out with our names on it. The message stated "Good Luck" in Italian.We now headed back to Tommaso's house. It was the night before leaving Italy, on our way back to the United States. We were relaxing in the Living Room. Maria was preparing dinner.As I observed her preparing dinner,she had chopped lamb on this little hand grill. She was turning it over and over to make sure it was done.She was cooking this in the kitchen fireplace.I was amazed at how she was cooking our food. I was not only learning about them, they were teaching me my Italian Heritage and I didn't even know it. We sat at the table that Maria worked so hard to prepare. Her food was wonderful! I kept saying,"Maria,Restaraunt in America?"we would all laugh!!!!!!!! It was now time to pack our suitcases for home. We didn't bring much with us.We got what we had with us and packed it up.It was a little snug, but,we managed.Once we were done, we headed down stairs and set the luggage by the front door for easy access in the early morning hours. We headed into the kitchen for Coffee,for me it was "Bitter"(an italian drink).It tastes like pop. All the sudden the door bell rings. It was a lot of the cousins we visited through the week.They not only came to visit,but,they were each carrying many,many presents. We looked over at our suitcases and back at all of them. we were in a lot of trouble for we had no more suitcases.We ended up borrowing from our cousins to get everything home. We visited shooting many photo's and video of all of us together,so that we could all remember these moments forever!It was time for everyone to leave for the evening.A night full of much sadness and tears. If it was so wonderful to find all of my family,then,why did I feel so miserable inside? We received several phone calls from cousins from their homes.Luckily I had a cousin present that could translate to them, that I loved them and I promised to come back someday,again.It was 4:00 am in the morning. We loaded the suitcases. Tommaso and Maria are taking us to the airport. We are all so tired,no sleep all week. It was scarey for Tommaso to drive that early in the morning with all the curvy roads,but, we made it, safely,to the airport. We are checking our bags in at the Leonardo Divinchi Airport. We all sit down on the benches. We are dreading the moments ahead of us to say our "Good-Byes!" We parted with many tears and very few words, always turning aroung to get a last glance. I didn't know the exact words for what I was feeling,but,my Big Brown eyes I inherited from my Italian Family spoke for themselves at this time. Not knowing if and when I returned to Italy, my cousins would all still be as they were, when I returned. Preserved in Time! I had many questions in my mind at this point,like:"How could my GrandFather leave such a loving and proud family?"and"How could he never return to where his roots were?" I myself, wanted to live in 2 different worlds. America, a world in which I know how to survive and am proud of,yet,I am always looking for family type friends.And, then,there was Italy. A world in which I knew who I was and where I wanted to be and where I knew my true family was at. I felt all the quilt I could,for my Grand Father's actions of almost 85 years ago. Upon leaving to arrive in Italy, I was so excited and smiled at everyone around me full of happiness to share. No one on the airplane seemed to have my same feelings,at all. Now I understood them. On my way home, after being in the hospital, having little sleep, drinking around 200 wines,coffee's and bitters,It didn't matter who was sitting next to me, I just wanted to sleep. And,Yes,We learned how to sleep sitting up in the Airplane chairs. I had the trip of my life I had enjoyed so much,But,my life that I knew in Italy came to a stop. My cousin Tommaso whom I left in the aiprort with tears in his eyes, asked one thing of me, when leaving the airport in Rome. He wanted me to video the experience of taking off and landing in an airplane.I suppose he was a little nervous about coming to the United States and wanted to see for himself what it was like.I was hand carrying my video recorder and I asked the stewardess if I could tape take(ing) off and she rudely had said "NO!" to me.Now,I had to think to myself: "My cousin takes us in, rents a bus so my whole family can meet us at the airport, walks us all around Rome,feeds us at the best restaraunts,drives us around all week to meet each cousin,buys us gifts and this lady is telling me, That I can not give this little request to my cousin?Well, you should know me by now. I wait until the lady is in her seat. I pick up my video recorder and I point it at my brother,he waves at the camera to Tommaso. (He doesn't think we should be doing this).Then, I point it towards myself and I say "Hello Tommaso,this video is for you!" and I tape what my cousin asks me to. I tape taking off from Rome and I tape going over the Corsica Islands.I also taped landing in New York(which turned out to be his favorite part). He enjoyed seeing all the lights lit at night from the airplane.It was beautiful!I finally ran out of batteries,but, I got my video footage and I was even happy,too.

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Who am I?Where are my roots?Where do I belong? (Chapter 4)

We finally arrived at an airport an hour away from our home.Our family there to greet us.Surprised at the condition that we were in.We could not help ourselves. It was a long flight and the words just came out, "Please can we get a BIG-MAC?"In Italy they have such great food,but, we hadn't been exposed to fast foods as we are in the United States. After 2 weeks of resting and having Bad Jet Leg, our lives were starting to get back to normal.I copied the video tapes for the cousins and sent them a couple of copies of our great times together!You see, I gave them more than I would ever know when I made those video's.....It was a weekday around 3:30 in the afternoon. I heard the telephone ring.I picked up the phone and it was Tommaso. He had some news for me. I never imagined the news he had for me.I had several older cousins that I had visited while in Italy. But, the cousin's that captured my heart in Italy was Pasquale and his wife Olga. They are in their 70's. We took many photo's and video tape while at their home,visiting,during our vacation. The whole time we visited them,they would cry and cry to tell me their lives when they were young.All the suffering they experienced when they were younger and taken away to concentration camps,they wern't fed food, their pain was easy to understand.My cousin Ada,whom know's english, would translate their stories to me and David,so we would know their sadness and pain.It was a short visit which I wish would of lasted longer. After we talked for a while, Olga went into the kitchen, she brought out these little home- made pizza squares. On each pizza square were flags of Italy and America and for our cousin Ada, there were Switzerland flags, where she was from. It was humerous and we had to laugh for the nice idea and thoughts of doing this for all of us. We took many photo's,however,when we left, I requested a photo of "Pasquale and Olga together,alone" they did what I asked and posed for the photograph.Well back to America and the present day. Tommaso had called to tell me that our Cousin "Olga had Morte." She had a painless heart-attack.Despite all the efforts to bring her to life,she was gone. This, I was never prepared for. I could only listen to Tommaso and cry. I didn't hardly say a word, for I had so much grief for "My Pasquale,""How could this happen to my Pasquale?" The funeral was tomorrow,Lisa could not get there that fast,but, I wanted to support him. I picked up the telephone to only hear Pasquales tears and sob's. He was trying to explain to me exactly what happened to his Olga. I couldn't understand exactly what he was saying,but, I listened to be there for him. I had sent him the video's and they received them 2 weeks before Olga's death. See, Olga was on these video's a lot. And that photo of Pasquale and Olga that I insisted on? Well, I had it made real big and I had it on wall in my home....I took this down and I mailed it to him. I waited about a week to make sure it had arrived to him. It was a part of him at this time, I sent also a part of me from this time to share,in the mail. I called and he was crying of much happiness to have the photo and the video's I believe, for his Olga was preserved forever! My trip to Italy was in March 1997.When I returned home, I would watch my video's of italy and my Cousins. I stopped my research.I had to stop and take a few steps back and look at my life now.It was all a lot to handle.It was all like a dream and I had to touch the ground and make sure I was in reality.For the past 5 years of writing to every DiCredico family in 10 countries brought me my family,a family I never knew that I had!A few months went by,I went to my computer and I started doing my Family Research again.Since then, I have also located my Pietrocola relatives in Argentina and Brazil.I will keep searching forever. I am still searching for One of my Lost Great Uncles named Giuseppe DiCredico and in the United States that would translate to Joseph DiCredico,he was born January 25,1891 in Torrevecchia Teatina Chieti,Abruzzo,Italy. If anyone has any information about this person please contact me. I will be bringing you more stories as my search goes on. This story was written May 1997 by Liza DeCredico and is copyrighted by Liza DeCredico http://members.tripod.com/~pippee/index.html http://members.tripod.com/grid1.html Liza DeCredico@ dlayton@mo-net.com (computer internet address)


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Copyright 1998-1999-2000 Liza DeCredico. All rights reserved in all countries and all languages
Last Updated: August 2000

Liza is currently working on her first book of all of her trips and experiences in finding her cousins. Through the obstacles and triumphs, a wonderful story submerges. IF you are interested in purchasing a copy of Liza's new book, please send her an email. Thanks for visiting my story.
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