Last August Diana Calta, soon to be ninety-three, was invited to a one-afternoon memoir-writing class. She wouldn’t have thought to go if she hadn’t been invited, but she’s game and smart and interested–so she went.
Diana lives in a retirement community in Montpelier VT, near her younger daughter, writer Marialisa Calta, and about 3000 miles from her older daughter, former city manager of Del Mar CA, Lauraine Esparza. Lauraine is one of my very best friends, and I’ve known Diana for most of my life.
Diana isn’t a writer, but she does have stories. Yet she’s from a generation that didn’t always share them, so a memoir class was going to be a challenge for her. A good challenge, as it turned out.
The teacher, from a local college, gave the attendees three topics and asked them to write a short paragraph about each. Here are Diana’s, verbatim.
Someone who influenced you a lot
I remember my Father. Probably the greatest influence in my life. He was a misfit–intelligent beyond his contemporaries. A misfit! He taught me a love of history–literature and the world. He spoke several languages–taught himself English and made his way in this new country, alone. Education was so important to him. He determined that I would have a good one. On graduation day I saw him cry.
A memorable childhood experience
I remember being on a trip to Europe. I was 5 and I don’t remember a great deal. I know we traveled in France and in Italy. My one memory that I can still see–in my mind–was Mt. Vesuvius. We were at the top of the rim–looking down into the crater and it was on fire–boiling–gurgling–and red and I was frightened. They tell me I saw Rome, I saw Paris. I saw mountains, but all I remember was that boiling cauldron.
My proudest accomplishment
It’s difficult to write about being proud without sounding boastful or feeling boastful. I have not achieved much in my life that is outstanding or memorable. I’ve done what was expected of me!! Now that I have lived a long blessed life I can see that most aims in life are really unimportant. So I must say, because I am not original, that I am most proud of my two daughters who have achieved what they seem to want out of life. Two loving, concerned individuals who care for friends, family and people. Friends come next–loyal, loving, helpful friends. There is not much else.
My appreciation and gratitude to Diana Calta for allowing me to share her words with you.
FYI / Independent Bookstores from Coast to Coast
The Homer Bookstore, Homer AK
Atomic Books, Baltimore MD
Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe, Boulder CO