• A photo of Dad as a teenager which my Luke loves.
  • Dad hanging out with some of his friends.
  • A postcard of Torrione e Sala Consiliare in Bitritto, Bari.
  • My brother Frank holding our baby sister Linda.
  • It's 1973 and Mum and her family are at Tullamarine Airport.
  • A precious postcard that Dad had sent Mum.
  • An airmail envelope addressed to Mum.
  • Dad's precious first letter to Mum from Italy.
  • Dad bought me back this gorgeous outfit and bag from Italy in 1973.
  • This is my adorable cape jacket that Dad bought back for me in 1973.
  • A postcard of the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari.
  • Dad's Qantas bag from his 1973 trip back home.

In early October 1973, a few of Mum's siblings picked up Dad and Mum and they headed to Tullamarine Airport. Unfortunately, we had to stay back with family as there was no more room in the car for us. Dad was going back to Italy to see my Nonna Nunziata. He was really sad and missing his Mum and all his family that maybe a trip back home might be what he needed. Financially times were a little tough, but they borrowed the money from family as Dad really needed to go.

Dad flew with Qantas Airlines and I am so lucky to still have the bag that he flew with from all those years ago. I have also just recently found a photo of Mum and her family outside waiting to say goodbye to Dad who was already on the plane. Luckily in 1973 at Tullamarine Airport there was an outside area that you could wave goodbye to your loved ones and they could see you on the platform. Unfortuantely they took the outside viewing platform away so these days you can wave all you like, but they can't see you. I'm not sure why they took it away as it felt more special knowing that your loved ones were still there until you took off safely.

When Dad eventually reached Fiumicino Airport in Rome, he was so exhausted and not feeling very well at all. He did manage to buy a postcard and wrote a few words on it to Mum to let her know that he had arrived safe and that he was thinking of all of us. We recently found the letter that Nonna had written to Mum and had told her how happy she was that she would be seeing Dad again. She also said to tell him that his brothers and nephew would be picking him up from Rome Airport. Unfortunately by the time the letter had arrived, Dad had already left. There were no mobile phones like today, but fate would make Dad miss the second plane to go to Palese Airport in Bari. He was sitting there tired and a little sad waiting for the next flight when he saw his nephew run over and jump on him with such excitement. Dad would write this to Mum in his first letter to her.

He rang Mum once he had settled back in his hometown and he was surprised when she had told him that his postcard had arrived the day after he had departed. 

While Dad was in Italy, his nephew Frank was getting married and Dad was so happy to be there celebrating with all his family and friends.

As much as Dad was excited to be with all his loved ones again, he was also missing us back home in Australia. Mum had written back to Dad within days of him leaving and Nonna would tell Mum in years to come, that when Dad received her first letter, he was emotional and a little teary. This is when my Nonna realised that he was truly happy with the new life that he had made for himself.

He loved being with his Mum and spending lots of time with his big sister Santa. They had a deep connection and were very close. They were both quick witted and always made others laugh and happy.

Dad had bought us back lots of memorable gifts from Italy. Mum tells me that he bought me a gorgeous outfit and fur cape jacket which I loved and wore everywhere. Thankfully Mum kept it for me and I still have it. He bought my brother Frank pants and a striped jumper which I can remember Frank wearing and Linda was a baby so he bought her back baby outfits. He bought Mum lots of things including two special hanging plates which she still has displayed in her kitchen. Hopefully she'll give them to me one day as I love them.

Dad was away from us for six long weeks and when he came back, he was happy to see us, but also a little sad as he didn't know when he would see his family again. Times were tough for migrants as they never had the social media that is around now. Imagine if they could have talked and seen each other through our current technology instead of talking on a home phone if you were lucky enough to have one.

Dad would eventually return back to his hometown of Bitritto in Bari, but not for another 4 years. This time though, it would be with all of us.

Story details

Country of origin: 
Share on social media: