Bringing Italy Home 2

Hospice of the Western Reserve gives back

James Violi, who lives with his wife, Barbara, in Columbia Station, has vivid memories of a youth spent working in his uncle’s olive orchard in Calabria, located on the toe of the Italian peninsula. Known for its pristine beauty, the region is bordered by the crystal blue waters of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas. The interior is framed by spectacular views of three mountain ranges. When people ask James about his native land he always says: “Calabria isn’t something you can explain; you have to experience it.”

James immigrated to the U.S. at age 22. Soon he was able to save enough money to bring his parents and siblings to the U.S. to join him. He settled in Northeast Ohio where he met and married his lifelong sweetheart, Barbara. Together, they raised a family of six children.

James worked hard to support his family, employed for 40 years at Kirkwood Industries, an industrial manufacturing company in Cleveland. Bosses appreciated and rewarded his solid work ethic. A quick study, he overcame a language barrier, working his way up through the company. He became so proficient on one machine that after he retired, it had to be shut down because no one else knew how to operate it.

James had hoped to take Barbara to Calabria for a visit, to show her his beautiful native land. Since a trip to Italy is no longer possible for the couple due to James’ illness, his care team from Hospice of the Western Reserve decided to do the next best thing; they devised a plan to bring Italy to the Viloi’s home.

Family, including children and grandchildren, gathered at the home of the couple, and a dinner was prepared by Joel Chermonte, a Hospice of the Western Reserve volunteer who owns his own private catering business. Joel prepared a meal that included antipasto, soup, salad, pasta, tiramisu, Italian wine, coffee and biscotti. While the Violis enjoyed their five-course meal and reminisced about Italy, Phillip Rayford, a music therapist intern, serenaded the couple on his mandolin.

A full life means having many stories to share. James says he has enough to write a book. He generously acknowledges all those who have helped him along the way to achieve his dream of living and working in America and raising his family here. “People don’t always appreciate what they have,” he says.  And although it’s not Italy, and not quite a book, James and his family now have one more special memory to treasure.

Reprinted by permission from Hospice of the Western Reserve. James and Barbara Violi are the parents of our co-publisher Joe Violi.