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A love note – You are a thorn in my side

April 19, 2011

My grandparents must have had a great sense of humor in their 60-year marriage.

As children they met in the sandbox in Greenwich Village in New York after their parents’ immigrated to this country, about 1903.  My grandmother went running over to her mother and said in Italian, “I met a boy who talks like us. His mother is sitting nearby.” Their mothers became good friends.

Louis Joseph and Alexandra (Landi) Camuti grew up as the original childhood sweethearts, becoming Americanized to a new land, new language and new way of life together.  They married on April 4, 1920.

For their first anniversary my grandfather gave my grandmother a cactus plant and told her she was the thorn in his side. Every year he gave her another plant with the same statement. In another household that might have caused a serious blowout, but Maming and Pop – as we called them – had a way of chuckling together. I always remember them being elderly, but I always remember them being sweethearts. They had a special smile when they looked at each other.

The joke that my grandfather played on my grandmother got played right back at him. My grandmother became skilled at growing cactus plants on windowsills. She would lop off a piece occasionally and root it in the plastic top to an old hairspray container.  She would cut out pictures from advertisements in old magazines and glue them to the sides of the plastic lids. She wouldn’t dare spend money on pots when she could reuse something.  Tuna cans were also useful.

When my grandmother passed away, some six and a half years after my grandfather and 66 years after the arrival of the first cactus plant every windowsill in the house and several scattered end tables were covered in cactus plants. Large, small and still rooting.

Earlier this month, my family remembered Maming and Pop’s anniversary. We still have one plant.  I’d like to think that it’s their way of telling us, half jokingly, “We love you, but you are all a thorn in my side.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 20, 2011 12:30 pm

    WONDERFUL STORY, Mary! This is a real treasure. Keep up the great work.

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