Grandmother and the She-Wolf
The year was 1920...... In the late summer of 1920 my grandmother finally received word that she and her daughter who was 11 years old at that time would be given passage on the Princess Matoika in February 1921 for America..... New York City.... to join the rest of the family, her husband, a son and two other daughters. She began making preparations to leave. The farmlands needed attention and she arranged to leave the care of the land to her relatives... the same was true for her home and all her belongings. Although the family was in America for twelve years she envisioned returning to her home sometime in the future.
Being September, there was much work to be done with the harvest .... Going to the fields she became aware of being observed from the perimeters of the property and to her surprise the observer was a female wolf.... She had seen this particular wolf before and had no fear of her.... in fact she began calling her "Donna". The wolf would be there when she arrived early in the morning and leave when she would leave after mid-day. One day she noticed that the wolf was pregnant and sympathized because it would mean the cubs would be born in the winter.... which was severe in these parts. She vocalized these thoughts and told Donna.... "Poor creature -- your little ones will not survive the cold winter".
September turned into October, then November and December.... Early in December there was a heavy snowfall and the snow drifts reached up to the second floor level of her home. One evening when she was preparing the bedroom upstairs for she and her daughter.... she heard stirrings in the hall area..... and to her amazement she saw four newborn wolf cubs close to her bedroom door and the tail and backside of the she-wolf Donna scurrying out the passage way at the end of the hall which was opened to the outside. She was perplexed as to what to do .... Wolves were not welcomed in the village and surely if anyone knew of these cubs they would be in danger. She asked my mother to be sure not to say anything at school the next day. It would be their secret.
All winter she kept the cubs near the fireplace in the downstairs area.... where they drank milk from the goat, Angelina, and played with the 3 cats. They flourished and were healthy. Early in February my grandmother began to be concerned because the day was close for their leaving for America. One morning she awoke and the house was very quiet.....upon opening her bedroom door she caught a glimpse of Donna taking the last of the four cubs away and looking back at her with a special stare which my grandmother said was "Thank You". That evening she heard Donna in song and my grandmother was sure it was a song of Thanksgiving.... for her cubs were safe and healthy. My grandmother had named the four cubs: Who, When, Where and Why. Taking care of them was a great solace for her preparation to leave... She was leaving the land of her ancestors who had been in the area since time immemorial to go to a distant land..... another world which she knew little about. She needed all the courage she could gather and found that the memories would serve her well in the new land.
When she closed the door on her home and began her trip to the new world with her daughter she had no way of knowing that she would never return again. This account is one of many that she told us as we were growing up in Brooklyn many years later in her house by the ocean which separated her from her native land.
Rachele Lozzi - March 28, 2001 (My grandmother died on March 28, 1950)