Eight months ago, my mother passed away. Yeah, conversation killer. I know. Most people stay silent if and whenever it’s mentioned. I get it. You can’t fathom what it’s like unless you know first-hand. There’s a discomfort to the conversation around death. Now, most days I feel like a shell of a human being ; a piece of carry-on luggage. However, I promise there is relevance to that heartbreaking share.
Food. You could say I’m a foodie. Quite a particularly spoiled one.. thanks to my mother’s talents. My love for the kitchen began at a very young age. Mom taught me Sicilian and Spanish cuisine — pasta, baked clams, chicken rollatini, empanadas, fried calamari, seafood salad, cheesecake. There’s a limit to how many words I can type here… but, trust me, she taught me the works.
I went on to begin learning the art of pastry at the age of fifteen. I charmed my way into an internship, which very quickly turned into an off the books gig for me. I spent the next thirteen years as a starving pastry chef in training, classes, working in bakeries, cafes. We can fast forward to 08/14/2018. That was the exact day my mother was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma lung cancer. They caught it late. It was at an extensive stage. She was a fighter still, no doubt. I spent many restless, tiresome days at Sloan Kettering with her.
I then began Pavone Pastries at the beginning of 2019. Here I am. A wholesale pastry business owner providing pastries to the cafes of NYC… A one-woman-show through and through, working seven days a week. My mother was proud. Alas, COVID-19 hit and I shut business down March 2020 along with everyone else in the food industry. It was a blessing in disguise; as I only had 3 months left with my mother. I went home to be with her for the rest of her days. It was the necessary kind of painful.
Our last conversation was her somewhat confused brain hallucinating. She laid on her hospital bed in our living room, gazing at what seemed to be nothing, when she said aloud,“Are you sure?”
I was seated at the dining table and responded, “Am I sure of what?”
There was silence. No answer. I followed up with, “Am I sure that I love you? Of course, I’m sure that I love you.” She replied, “I’m sure I love you too.” She passed later in the middle of the night. I was shattered. I still am, veritably. Who am I kidding? I’ll never not be shattered.
I presume my point in sharing this story is that I always knew, since my days of learning from my mother that I’d someday have my very own brick and mortar location, but I never had any clue what it would be until I lost her. Maybe tragedy does that to a number of us. My work now has a depth of purpose. Yes, we are still in a worldwide pandemic and that has slowed us all down a bit. and I struggle with my grief and well… my ADD, but the beautiful thing is that I can excel in this area of my life. So, I am striving toward opening an all-day cafe restaurant in Los Angeles that will be called ‘Chris’ — named after my mother and I. There I’ll serve my own innovative spin on my mother’s Sicilian cuisine from breakfast through to dinner. The world shall know and love her food. Pain into passion, am I right? You can do it too!