In my new novel, What’s Left, her great-grandmother Maria could quite possibly take off as big juicy book all her own. Well, I sketch what I can of this most colorful character even when the core of this novel is about Cassia and her grief.
In the arms of Ilias the Cypriot, Maria’s left a seedy past in Havana and found forgiveness and redemption in converting to Orthodox Christianity in Chicago. And then, in the next stage, she’s actively contributing to the lives of her grandchildren down in Indiana, including Cassia’s mother, Diana.
She’s indirectly responsible for inspiring her grandson Barney’s great culinary signature creation, the Streetcar sandwich. I’m not even sure if she’s still around to lend it her approval as it comes out of their ovens.
I’m still surprised I allowed Maria and Ilias to fade out of the picture as they do. Maybe their deaths would have simply been too much to add at that stretch of the story. But they are memorable, aren’t they?
Oh, if only there were figures like them in my family! Oh, now that I’m thinking of it, I can come up with a few. Care to look at the comments in the family cookbook?
Not that we got together that often.
Looking at wider circles, though, the list soon grows.
Who are the most outrageous – and yet loveable – people you know? (Well, I’ll settle on outrageous or loveable. Or even past tense, have known.) What makes them so?