A Book That Celebrates Fathers, Daughters, Miracles and Italy

In honor of Father’s Day, I want to tell you about a book that I have enjoyed and that my own father is currently reading!

An unforgettable story based on true events, My Father’s Last Meatballs, A Heavenly Entrée, is a tale of family, love, loss and miracles. This non-fiction book is a compelling story brimming with great ingredients: moxie, warmth, surprises, humor, and of course, lots of Italian food!

The author, Paula Maida Mooney (who funnily enough goes to the same fabulous hairdresser my mother loved), took a heritage trip to Italy where a strange occurrence led her to an extraordinary emotional and spiritual healing after the death of both her parents, three months apart, from the same miserable disease.

Most of all, it pays tribute to the relationship that this author had with her father, her “Johnny.” His lifelong dream of going to Italy, where his beloved parents came from, was never realized. It is not accident, you will realize, that this is where a seeming miracle took place.

Reading this book brings you back into another era.  It vividly recreates growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, an Italian immigrant family, the Second World War, the inevitable moves to the suburbs and a batch of relatives and raucousness who grew up and grow old together. In the midst of it all, America’s greatest generation, a group of servicemen and women come home from the war – and with this begins a new generation, the Baby Boomers.

As Paula writes in her book, “All fathers think that their baby daughters are beautiful – imagine the first time he holds his infant daughter, the way he looks into her eyes, and the tender hold of her little finger grasping his. The feeling is mutual – he is her first love and her hero.” Thus, begins a strong emotional attachment and bond each feel for each other. Which amazingly, gets stronger, even in death – as the reader will discover on the “dream trip to Italy.”

Paula’s father, John, is a hard-working and deeply caring man, and when his wife gets sick, he develops his culinary skills. Hence, meatballs in the book’s title.  While the story is unique in many ways, it has universal appeal. You are there with her having real conversations among relatives so like your own in their emotions, customs, life-styles and appearance. It is a family connected by roots and, most of all love.

A zesty recipe for enjoyment – a tribute to the unique love shared between daughters and fathers – My Father’s Last Meatballs has all the makings of the perfect gift for the father in your life. — Kathy McCabe