Throughout the release weeks of The Santinis, I have had a lot of questions about the guys, but there have been a lot of questions about their mom, Joey Santini.
I met with Joey a few days ago to talk about her boys and more importantly, how Papa Santini and she met. She’s not a large woman, actually small in stature, but there is something awe inspiring about the woman. We met at one of my favorite places to eat, Anthony’s on Centreville Road in Manassas.
MEL: Thanks for talking to me today.
JOEY: No problem. I always love the gyros here. Still, I’m kind of puzzled why everyone would want to know about me.
MEL: Not sure, although I think they are fascinated with a woman who tamed a Marine and then raised four more Santinis.
JOEY: I don’t know how tamed you would call Stewart.
MEL: I can’t think of him as Stewart. All the guys refer to him as Papa or Dad in my head.
JOEY: I only call him that when he’s in trouble. It was the only way I can get his attention and let him know he’s done something wrong. That thick Santini head is hard to get through.
MEL: How did you meet?
JOEY: I was working as a waitress in a bar and teaching art part time. He came in one night.
MEL: For some reason that seems like something so simple.
JOEY: The best things in life are, but then, life with Santini is never simple. He came in with a bunch of his buddies, thought he would charm me. He ended up wearing the beer he ordered. That’s when he said he knew he loved me.
MEL: I’m sure there is a lot your leaving out.
JOEY: Oh, yeah, but then I have some respect to his privacy. Every Santini falls hard, but they don’t like the idea of the world knowing everything. They’re kind of private.
MEL: Can you tell me anything else?
JOEY: Well, it was Christmas time and I remember feeling kind of lonely. My folks had opted to go off to work in South America for some charity and I was alone. And then there was Santini, or as his friends called him at the time, The Great Santini.
MEL: So, what was it like raising all the boys?
JOEY: It was mind numbing terror and the best of times. I was an only child raised by what Stewart calls hippies, which means, they were laid back. So, a big family with boys, that was a little different.
MEL: Raising that many kids normally isn’t easy, but being a military wife myself, I understand the complexities of raising kids within that life. Was there ever a time you wanted to chuck it?
JOEY: Oh, yes. So many times. Especially when I found out I was pregnant with Gee. Stewart had just left for a six month deployment. I wasn’t that happy.
MEL: I can imagine not. And you decided to move back to the DC area?
JOEY: I like the area. Stewart could get a job easily, and I knew I had more of a chance of getting one of my guys stationed here. And I was right. At the moment, Vicente is here. I imagine that Marco will probably end up here at some point too. Not sure if my other two will want to leave what they call fun.
MEL: So, while I am talking to you, Gee has just gotten his HEA, but you have one left. Your first born.
JOEY: I’m working on that one. His story is almost twenty years in the making but I always say better late than never. And as long as I get more grandbabies out of it, I don’t care. Leo jokes that now that I have daughter-in-laws that I would shoot them, but truth is, I am just happy seeing my boys happy. Well, almost all of them, but I have faith in Vince.
MEL: Thanks for talking to me today. Happy Mother’s Day.
JOEY: Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the mothers out there.
Get to know Joey and all her men in The Santinis, out now from Melissa Schroeder Publishing and look for A Santini Christmas, coming this November–get to know how it all started that Christmas so long ago.