Tag Archives: Sicily

Baby Brother

“Baby brother”
April 1967: My mom went into hospital to have a baby. I already had 2 younger brothers and 2 older male cousins next door; it was time for a sister. However, when my mom phoned from the hospital, I was told that I had another baby brother instead.

“No Fair”
“A brother? Noooo, it just isn’t fair,” I said. I felt that the doctors had to change him for a girl, or why couldn’t the stork bring me a sister rather? (In those days we were told that the stork brought babies)

​I was adamant that there were enough boys in the family already. I was the only girl and it just wasn’t fair. I don’t think she knew how to answer me because I just wasn’t calming down. Soon after, dad went to fetch her, and they came home with the new bundle of joy. I soon grew to love the new arrival, and I would even help mom with him. However, I still wanted a sister.

“Baby cousin”
The following year my aunt next door gave birth to a little girl, finally there was another girl in the family. I spent as much time as I could by their house. If I couldn’t have a baby sister, then a cousin had to be the next best thing. Despite my sentiments towards my baby brother when he was a child, I rely on him a lot today. He helps me with repairs around the house and he is also generous with his time. (He is quite handy like my dad was, and like my other 2 brothers are, but unfortunately my husband is not). As for my cousin, she now lives in Sicily with her family. In short, I love my baby brother and I would not trade him for the world.


by Grazia Martienssen

My Doll

“My Doll”
We emigrated from Sicily in 1964, when I was 5 years old. After school I went back for 2 years, and my favourite great-aunt or “pro-zia” as we say in Italian, had a doll on the couch, nothing special just a toy. She told me that I had left it behind, and she’d kept it as a souvenir and given it my name -Grazia. Years later she died not having had any children.

One of my cousins inherited the house. Years later my nephew from Australia went to Italy, he visited the house with the intention of purchasing it to keep it in the family. He sent me photos and I asked if there was a doll, he said ‘’yes, but it was mouldy, dirty, naked and missing one leg’’. Nobody knew anything about it, so I told him the story. My cousin, who inherited the house decided to look for the leg, which she found.

My 93-year-old aunt in Sicily, which is my dad’s sister who moved to South Africa before us, made it her mission to fix, clean and clothe the doll in order to reunite it with me after all this time. Being a sentimental person with a heart of gold, she stopped at nothing less than making sure the leg functioned again like it did when I was a child. With the ordeal of the leg out the way, she even went as far as knitting an outfit for the doll. The doll is now ready to go and is awaiting my nephew’s next visit to Italy for it to be shipped back to me.

​“Can’t go now”
Unfortunately, though, due to the current world-wide crisis that COVID-19 is causing, I may have to wait a while longer to see the doll in person again. The doll is waiting, and hopefully after everything settles, he’ll be able to go again, and my aunt will have the satisfaction of knowing I have received it. I would have totally understood if they had thrown it away, after all, it is just a toy…..expect for the sentimental value they attached to it, which makes me feel loved and special.

In short, this story proves that objects can be lost or misplaced, and memories can gradually grow faint, but sentimental value itself is timeless, and it has the ability to create comfort when least expected. The “doll”, well Grazia ‘’Junior’’ lives on.

Thanks for reading

Grazia ‘’Senior’’