Dominic's Story

My grandfather married "Nonna" in Italy in October 1924. Six months later he left with a group of Italian men to look for work. They went to Melbourne and Sydney, and then he carried on with a smaller group to New Zealand.

Grandfather lived in Auckland's Mt Eden, for the rest of his life, working as a stonemason and terrazzo floor layer. He did not see his wife again for sixteen years.

The plan was he would find work, send money back to Italy, and Nonna (Italian for grandmother, Nonno means grandfather) would board a ship and join him in New Zealand.

Nonno faithfully sent the money at intervals, but because her family was so poor they spent the money on food. At that time in northern Italy (Foza), poverty was commonplace. I think Nonna's parents were also afraid that once she was in New Zealand, they would never see her again...

Nonno did not speak English well and was on his own for seven years. Then he met this English woman and from what I heard later "she was a party girl". My father was conceived from that relationship..

The English lady, known to my siblings and I as Aunty Pat, wanted an abortion. Three years earlier, she had given birth to Joelene, who's father was Brazilian. Soon after birth, Joelene was adopted out and it was only in Easter 2000, that our family was able to meet with her (she lives in America).

Aunty Pat was again pregnant, this time to a married man, so I could understand why she wanted the abortion. When she told Nonno of her plan, he replied: "If you do, I will kill you too!" He probably would not have carried out the threat, but he had a temper.

For the first three years of my dad's life he was raised by Nonno and Aunty Pat. It wasn't until our teenage years that we were told aunty Pat was our grandmother. She seemed to lose interest in her infant son. Being Italian, Nonno was totally unaccustomed to seeing a child neglected by his own mother. He took Aunty Pat to court and even though it was very rare in those days, he gained custody of their child.

It was very difficult for Nonno to work and raise his boy, and at time my dad was left on his own in a large unfinished home, but fortunately there was a kind elderly lady across the road who would look after him sometimes.

Nonno wrote to his wife and informed her that he had a son. My dad was about eight years old when Nonna finally arrived at the door of their Mt Eden home. He was so keen to have a mother, that when she stood in the doorway, he just ran into her arms. Nonna was a very good mother to him, and a grandmother to us.

I would not be here if my father's life had been cut short in his mother's womb. Of course my brother and sisters would not be here either: there would be no Theresa, Francesco, Alberto, Bernadette, Maria, Antonino, Marco, Gerard, Christina, Giovanna, or Monica. No wonder dad's workmates nicknamed him "ten speed".

Due to abortion, potential family lines are foreclosed. If Aunty Pat had terminated her pregnancy, dad could not have married mum and had 12 children. None of those children would have had children.

As for me, I would not be who I am. What would I be? Would I have even existed? God knows!