Ok here it goes. This will be my first post on my blog. My Name Is Tony Armen. I am soon to be 66 years old. I was born on October 16 1951, in Cagliari Italy. My Birth Mother refused me at birth or at least that is what I am told. I spent the first 5 years of my life in an orphanage run by nuns. I have very little memory of that time of my life other than a deep feeling of unhappiness. Also a scar on my left cheek which I am told another child in the orphanage tried to put my eye out. Why I can’t remember anything up to the age of five has always bothered me. I suppose I have mentally blocked that part of my life out. I have often thought of trying hypnosis to see if I could retrieve some memories but I don’t even know if that kind of hypnosis is possible.
I have wanted to put down my thoughts on my life for quite some time. Not because I have had a particularly interesting life. I have not. I suppose it is vanity or a desire for my children to understand me better. these posts will be deeply personal for me.
I am back after a very long pause. Since I found who my mother is, a lot has happened. Unfortunately not anything that really has helped me get any closer to the truth. Because of the events of the last year or so everything has come to a halt. It is now spring 2021 and I feel like the worst is over. I am ready to try again to get more information. I have decided to try a different approach. Hopefully it will get me some better results. But in the meantime here is what has been going on with me over the last year or so.
On March 31, 2020 I officially retired from my job at Dixie Pipeline. The plan was to retire join a health club, play some golf, travel and generally enjoy the rest of my life. Well as you know that all went to hell in a hand basket. My wife and I had been planning a Trip to Italy for over a year and 2020 was the year we were gonna go visit my mothers grave and see some of Italy to fulfill life long dreams for both of us. Needless to say we were bitterly disappointed. But hopefully we will try again maybe next year.
With the pandemic I basically became a hermit self quarantined for about 6 months. Stayed at home read a lot, did crossword puzzles, and when the weather permitted I would take long walks. we are fortunate to have a lot of greenways to walk and be with nature. But once the the heat of summer came with the humidity it became too much so I stopped.
Along with the pandemic there was a lot of other problems with the country in 2020. I started to feel restless like I needed to do something to contribute my time to. I decided to work as an election official in my county. I am so glad I did that. It proved to be a very rewarding experience and very educational. It was a lot of work what with early voting and the General Election. I was left with a sense of accomplishment and pride in our election system. So when the election was over and it was apparent who the winner was. I was very upset with the claims of voter fraud and stealing of the election. Being an immigrant who is a naturalized citizen of this country. Who served in the military during the Vietnam war. I have a lot of pride and love for this country. What happened in this country between election day and inauguration day sickened me. I was ashamed for my country. During the events of January 6th I wept as I watched a Traitor to his country and his oath of office incite a mob to attack congress. So much harm was done to this country in the four years he was in office. The fear of watching this country become a fascist state was coming true right before my eyes. I hope the new man can right the ship. Although I am no fan of him either. I consider myself a fiscal conservative and was a republican for most of my life. But no more.
On a lighter note, when the restrictions were eased a few months ago. I was finally able to join a health club. So I have been doing a lot of physical activities. Yoga, pilates, treadmill, eliptical, circuit training and swimming. So my retirement plan is finally starting to come together. With the restrictions lifted I am able to see my grandkids and hug them again. We got our vaccines two months ago so we are supposedly safe to rejoin society again.
The only other news is that we have decided to sell our house and move into a 55+ community. We got a really good price for our house and sold it to a couple in New York who are going to use it for rental property. So we are renting our old house while we wait for our new home to be built. As of now the new house is scheduled for completion in September. i hope to be a little more active and continue this blog with updates and random thoughts and stories from my life and times.
It has been more than a year since I have posted anything to my blog. I finally have a reason to sit down and write something. Let me preface this by explaining that for the last 18 plus years I have been on a long journey to find my birth mother. It has been very difficult because things don’t happen quickly in this search, and often end in failure. I went into this with my eyes open really never expecting to actually find my mother because of my age. I didn’t believe that she would be alive. But I did hope to maybe find a sibling or two. I was born in Italy which didn’t allow adopted children access to their birth records. Until about two years ago when the laws changed due to public pressure, and from Italian adoption groups. So I petitioned to find my Mother. After almost a year they agreed to hear my petition. In October of 2017 I got an appointment at the Italian Consulate in Philadelphia and pleaded my case. Then nothing.
Three days ago I received a phone call from the Italian Consulate and they had some news for me. They had found my mother. Unfortunately she had died in 2015. Now that is sad yes but I was prepared for that. Because she was deceased there was no need to contact her for permission to release information about my existence and get her consent for me to contact her. what was important was her name. The name that was redacted on my Italian birth certificate. Once I had that many opportunities opened up to me. Along with her name and date of birth and death they told me where she died and was buried. In a short span of time with my contacts from an adoption group I belong to. I had a picture of the cemetery, I had a picture of her tomb, and most importantly I had a picture of her which was on the tombstone. I have seen what my mother looked like granted at an advanced age probably from sometime in her seventy’s. she was ninety one when she passed. There were fresh flowers at her grave, and I even had the name of the person who paid for the plot. Possibly a relative maybe a son.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I haven’t had a real family except for the one I made with my wonderful wife. Two beautiful daughters and 6 grandchildren. My adopted family was ok but that is another story for another time. They are all gone now. I am hopeful that I will find my family but maybe they won’t want to find me. A new journey begins as an old one ends. A dream come true. Wish me luck.
I am sitting here on a snowy day in Raleigh. Unable to get to work because 6 inches of snow paralyses the city. A fresh snowfall is always very pretty. Unfortunately the feeling doesn’t last long.
The first time I remember snow was when I was around 6 years old. I was born in Sardinia so I had never seen snow. Living in Rochester PA the winters were cold and I can remember looking out my classroom windows and seeing the Ohio river almost completely frozen over. I never liked winter or snow. As I grew older I was the designated shoveler of snow which really sucked. We lived on a corner and had a lot of sidewalk.
I do have some fond memories of wintertime experiences. My grandparents on my mother’s side had a farm in Butler County. One day my mother got a phone call that grandpa was really sick. My mother was a retired nurse so naturally she was going. At the time she was driving a Corvair which had the motor in the rear. For some reason she took me with her. When we left it was snowing and the further we went the worse the roads got. What usually was an hour drive on back country roads took closer to three hours. When we got to the farm it was almost dark. There was easily a couple of feet of snow on the long gravel drive up to the farm-house. Well mom gunned the engine and drove up the narrow drive and of course the light front of the Corvair lifted straight up in the drifted snow. She was stuck and we were still quite a distance from the farmhouse. My mother undaunted took a blanket and tied it around both of us and slogged the rest of the way with me on her back. I remember looking around and seeing countryside with all that deep snow. It was beautiful. This was in 1957 or 58 long before I was old enough to read Dr Zhivago or see the movie. But when I did it took me back to that night. It was a visceral experience that has never left me.
The name given to me when my birth mother gave me up at birth and sent me to an orphanage was Franco Gerosa. The surname is unremarkable like Smith or Jones. So the only link I have is my Christian name Franco. I was born in Cagliari Italy on October 16, 1951. Although Franco is a common Italian first name it was my name. I answered to that name when it was time to eat or go to bed. When it was time to go to mass or to play. Even when I was being punished for doing something I wasn’t suppose to. I had nothing that belonged to me except my name Franco.
Then it happened. My life was turned upside down. No one told me what was happening, No one explained that I was leaving the only life I had known or why. I was told I was going to America to live with a family as there son. What does that mean to a five year old kid who has never had a family. Is this a good thing? Oh yes you will be so happy.
I came to America on December 4, 1956. Two days later I met my prospective parents. Oh they were so happy to see me as I was the little boy that they had hoped for. All I remember is being extremely tired and hungry. Mangiare Mangiare. My prospective father actually spoke Italian and told my new mother I was hungry. My new parents took me to my new home in Pennsylvania and I had to learn all over again what to do and how to do it. The language barrier was a problem at first as my mother didn’t understand me and my father had to translate. Then the rules started. I had to learn to speak their language. I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee black only with lots of sugar and milk. I had to wear shoes all the time, which turned out to be a problem as I never wore shoes before and could not walk in them.
Both my new parents came from large families. My fathers family was Italian and my mothers family was Slovenian. So I was displayed like a slightly used car to all my new family. All this was confusing and frightening enough but the thing that made me the unhappiest was my name. My new father’s name was Anthony and he went by Tony. Well I was starting a new life so I had to have a new name. Of course my new Christian name would be Anthony, and as a concession I guess my middle name would be Frank. So my new name was Anthony Frank Armen. Since everyone called my dad Tony I was called Tony also. But that created it’s own problems and I wasn’t a junior so I was called Tony Frank. I don’t expect you to understand how much I grew to hate being called Tony Frank. When my mother would call me that it was like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. The kids in school would call me Tony Frank out of derision and meaness. I would tell people just call me Tony.
I learned to accept my American name out of necessity and legality. But My Name is FRANCO!!!!
After five years of life spent in an orphanage to be ripped out of that world with no warning and forced into a completely different world would be a shock for any child. No matter how rough life may have been in the orphanage it was the only life I knew. Once again I would be asked to accept a new reality without understanding why. Moving to a new country not able to speak the language.
So I came to America the land of opportunity with no limits on what you can become. My earliest memories were of course tv. A five-year old italian who can’t speak english watching television for the first time. I remember being sick a lot . I had sore throats and ear aches seemingly constantly. I had three different types of measles. My new mother was a retired nurse. So she would take care of me and treat me through all my illnesses. My adopted father was italian and could understand me so he was my translator. But he refused to speak italian to me. His reasoning was that I would learn english quicker and have less of an accent. I guess ultimately he was right.
It turned out that I wasn’t very healthy. I had several physical problems. I was suffering from malnutrition. I had slight curvature of the spine. I walked with my toes out at almost a ninety degree angle and on my ankles. The specialist said I walked like that because I never wore hard soled shoes. I only ever wore slippers. I had to where corrective shoes until I was twelve years old. When I finally refused to wear them because I was tired of the other kids making fun of me.