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Sinatra and Sauce

(by Alexandra Izzo)

My mom has three daughters: Amanda, Norma, and me. Amanda and Norma were born when Mom was in her early 20s; then she remarried and had me when my sisters were 16 and 13. My sisters were raised by a mom who was more like a friend, still growing up herself. It was a kind of Italian family life that I only know from dusty VHS tapes, in New York houses with floral wallpaper, cousins living right next door to each other. By the time I came along, Mom’s early parenting jitters were gone, and she was more easygoing—not so much “you need to finish your homework.”

As the youngest, smallest, and quietest, I was babied for quite some time—maybe even to this day. (I’m not complaining). But there was another reason. When I was three, I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called ITP (first misdiagnosed as leukemia). The immune system attacks platelets in the blood, causing easy bruising. Being rushed to the hospital for a blood transfusion no doubt affected the protective cosseting that was lavished on me. It was almost like I had three moms.