I write to understand my life, my family, my world. I write about addiction, my Italian heritage, my relationship with my grandmother and mother. I write with the hope that you will find yourself in my stories.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, born into an Italian family. My maternal grandmother, Nonna Carmela, became a role model for me. Her strength and steadfast love became the bedrock to the path that led me to move to Italy where I learned the concept of Stay Close, the thinking that eventually helped my son find his way to health after a 14-year addiction.
I went to St Mary’s Elementary School and Canevin Catholic High School. My early years were steeped in faith and family. My dad, an Italian patriarch, dictated that I could apply to colleges only if I majored in education or nursing, so I entered Indiana University of Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor’s degree in education. A year later, I was granted an internship at the University of Pittsburgh where I earned both a Master’s and Doctoral Degree. For seventeen years, I was Head of The Calverton School, an independent day school in Maryland.
Today, my two sons, Jeff and Jeremy, and one granddaughter, Iysabella Carmela, fill me with joy. Iysa is the only child of Jeremy, my younger son. My older son, Jeff, is now eleven years sober from the addiction that changed our lives. My sons and I joined together to write Stay Close: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction. Jeff and I speak to groups throughout the world about the hope of recovery.
I have residences in Annapolis, Maryland, and, since 2004, in Florence, Italy. I am a proud member of the Florence Dragon Ladies, a rowing team of breast cancer survivors, a former board member of the International School of Florence, and a member of the American International League of Women, a group dedicated to raising money for charities. I have dual citizenship through my maternal grandparents, who were born in Rotondella, Italy.
Our family has experienced miracles and sorrows, but like Pittsburgh steel we have survived and are strong. Today, we live in a space of gratitude. My hope is to offer a steadying hand to others who are facing addiction. Where there is life, there is hope.