September 11th – Hand Carved Tribute
Victoria (Cusanelli) Kusnell
100 Years Young
On September 11th, when the towers came down we were all affected the same way. Horrified to say the least. Broken Hearts, Unbridled Anger, Frustration and Confusion as to why someone would want to hurt so many people by doing what they did. Aunt Victoria was one of the millions of us who’s heart broke each year on that date as the attack was recalled over and over on the television.
Aunt Victoria (Cusanelli) Kusnell was and remains an American girl, born to southern Italian Immigrants that came to “the other side” to better their lives.
She lived through the Depression, a World War, the tragic death of both a young brother and sister as well as all the trial and tribulations that life brings. This was another tragedy that left her wanting to do something, something that would help at least emotionally . But what could a woman in her 90’s do…?
Our Aunt Vic was an accomplished executive secretary and a wonderful aunt. She was raised Roman Catholic but never married spending most of her life interacting with her family and most of all spending time with her nephews and nieces.
It was her that took me fishing as a six year old. She called me her little fisherman. I still recall my first fishing reel that she bought for me and the Crab baskets and bait in the trunk of her brand new 56 Buick. The car that my dad salvaged for her from the bottom of the Skuykill River after it fell off of a barge. …. Hey but that’s another story.
This is someone that likes to get things done. Two years ago on her 98th birthday I went to visit her in Atlantic City. As she sat there on the front porch over looking the ocean she proudly told me that she had just applied for and received a LOAN. And she was tickled pink that she was able to do that saying “Frankie, you know as long as you have good credit they can’t turn you down because of your age!” We laughed together as I asked her to explain the “Terms”. I think it was only for $1,500 but hey a loan is a loan.
So it didn’t surprise me when I received an email from her one day around the 9/11 commemoration. Aunt Vic always on top of her game even at her age learned to email. She called herself “Old Aunt Vic” and corresponded with me regularly. In the email was a request that I stop over as soon as possible. She had something to show me.
That next Sunday I took a ride over to Atlantic City to pay her a visit. She came down stairs and sat with me on the porch laughing with a big smile on her face. “Ya’ know Frankie, I was sitting here on these Adirondack chairs one day and the thought occurred to me that these chairs were built by your father back in the 1940 just before he entered the army.”
Up until that day I didn’t know that my dad had built the chairs and table that we always sat on when we got together on that porch. The chairs although worn by 75 years of use were still in good enough shape to be useful. . Kind of like her… very resilient, practical and still in good enough shape to be useful.
“So” … she said, “I was tired of feeling so bad and helpless every time I watch the TV on 9/11, so” …. At this point she asked me to wait a moment as she went upstairs into the house to bring down the surprise she wanted to share. ” I had to do something Frank so I carved this tribute to the good people that suffered on that day and all those families that lost family members just trying to help.”
And there it was. A hand carved piece that she created from one of the pictures she got from the cover of a magazine. Hand carved shrouds and little people standing on the side.
Aunt Vic was never a hand carver. She was a painter and an artist but never until that time ever tried to carve anything. But she put her mind to it and….. She did it! What an inspiration.
Recently I asked why she stopped emailing me. She said “oh come on Frankie. No one wants to hear from me any more. Anyway I’m over the computer now. I have a black spot on my eye and I can’t see very well these days. I’m getting old you know.” (She never admits to being old only that she is getting old.). “I’m making rosary beads now Frank, sending them to the poor in South America and I’m thinking of starting to paint again. Remember those canvases that you bought from me a few years ago?” (actually 20 years ago but I didn’t tell her.)
Well you should know that this year for her 100th birthday we gave her a laptop that I am not using anymore so that, at her request, she can begin emailing again. She is sharp as a tack, remembers every one’s birthday and is a wealth of knowledge about the past. It’s really cool to watch the doctors sit there and take notes as she explains that things that she does to keep in good condition. Vitamin supplements that she takes, what she eats and drinks and her reasoning behind it all. What a Piece a’ Work! Honestly, She’s a real doll.
Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
and believe it or not
Aunt Vic at 100 years old is brand new on
Facebook as Victoria Kusnell.
We have to help her with joining our Everybody Loves Italian Family next. She admits she is just learning this Facebook thing so if you try to find her, her page is not properly set up yet although we’re working on it. Feel free to send a friend request and as we get this together I’m sure she’ll get a kick out of it. After all “She’s Getting Old”. During one of our recent conversations she said to me… “Ya’ know Frankie I’m 100 years old now well…. Big Woop! It’s not what it’s cracked up to be” and we laughed and laughed.
I’ll be sharing more and more about her in future posts and blogs but for now she is 100 years young looking toward the future trying to decide what to do next.. Make more rosary beads? What she should paint or carve or who knows what. Trying to figure out what more mischief she can get herself into at her young age.
Aunt Victoria Kusnell
(Maria Victoria Cusanelli)
100 Years Young & Looking to the Future