21. Ida

THE DI GREGORIOS LEARNED to avoid talking about certain things outside the home. They learned that some things were too painful to talk about at all. They rarely mentioned Ida’s death. When they did, they referred to it only as “the accident.”

They rarely mentioned Ida herself. However, they kept her memory alive in another way.

Less than two years after the accident, Serafino told the five surviving children—Mafalda, Leonata, Raffaello, Bice, and Algisa, who were then ages nine, eight, six, five, and two—to go outside on the porch and to stay there until they were called. It was July 28, 1925. The children waited on the porch as their parents delivered a new baby sister into the world, just as each of the five of them had been delivered into the world by their parents in that downstairs bedroom of 30 Lehigh Row.

Serafino and Maria named the new baby girl Ida to honor the memory of her slain big sister.

The elder Ida forever thereafter became referred to as “La Ida”—or “the Ida.”

The younger Ida is my mother.