To this day I remember my mum's letters. It all started in December 1941. Every night she sat at the big table in the kitchen and wrote to my brother Johnny, who had been drafted that summer. We had not heard from him since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
I didn't understand why my mum kept writing Johnny when he never wrote back.
"Wait and see, we'll get a letter from him one day," she claimed.
I don't know if she said that to calm herself, dad or all of us down. But I do know that it helped us stick together, and one day a letter really did arrive. Johnny was alive on an island in the Pacific.
I had always been amused by the fact that mum signed her letters, "Cecilia Capuzzi", and I teased her about that. "Why don't you just write 'Mum'?" I said.
I hadn't been aware that she always thought of herself as Cecilia Capuzzi. Not as Mum. I began seeing her in a new light, this small delicate woman, who even in high-heeled shoes was barely one and a half meters tall.
She never wore make-up or jewelry except for a wedding ring of gold. Her hair was fine, sleek and black and always put up in a knot in the neck. She wouldn't hear of getting a haircut or a perm. Her small silver-rimmed pince-nez only left her nose when she went to bed.
至今我依然記得母親的信。事情要從 1941 年 12月說起。母親每晚都坐在廚房的大飯桌旁邊，給我弟弟約翰寫信。那年夏天約翰應征入伍。自從日本襲擊珍珠港以后，他就一直杳無音信。