Arresting autobiography full of heartbreak - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Arresting autobiography full of heartbreak

October 22nd, 2020 SanTan Sun News
Arresting autobiography full of heartbreak

By Srianthi Perera

The impish trio of boys on the book cover belies the story. They look mischievous, happy and cared for. But that’s a far cry from the events that followed John Gaudioso when he was little.
The Sun Lakes resident’s autobiography, “Three Weeks, A Lie” (published by Austin Macauley Publishers), is an arresting story of a father who arranged for his wife – the boys’ mother – to be confined to a mental facility.
He then transferred his sons to a “special school” for three weeks and later to an orphanage for eight-and-a-half years.
“My brothers Al, Bob, and I witnessed our mom carried and dragged past us by men in white as we huddled against our living room wall. Dad arranged for mom to be confined to a mental facility. He didn’t bother considering softening our confusion by explaining Mom was sick or where she was being taken,” Gaudioso wrote.
The meaning of his Italian name is “joyful.” But those years were anything but happy for the brothers.
The father didn’t bother preparing the boys for what was ahead of them at the orphanage – the least of which was the absence of family influences.
It was a case of adjustments, procedures and regulations, made worse by the brothers being separated, in addition to losing their mother’s love and any meaningful family communication.
“Our mom endured 11 years in a mental facility. We endured eight-and-a-half years in an orphanage,” Gaudioso said. “As if that wasn’t enough, Dad followed up a few years later telling us that Mom was gone. A lie. What would prompt any father, for no known reason, to elect to separate a family without explanation for his actions?”
The family immigrated to the USA from Italy and his grandfather was a shoe-maker. They had seven sons. His dad, who became a federal employee, was one. The events in the autobiography took place in Brooklyn, New York between 1947-1964.
Before their mother and they were placed into institutions, the Gaudiosos were a regular family that enjoyed Sunday walks, playground activities and family gatherings.
“Dad’s actions were abrupt and quickly acted on,” he said. “No explanations were provided.”
Years later, they were told that their mother was alive and that she was committed to a mental institution. They also became aware that she was diagnosed as schizophrenic.
“It was then we realized Dad lied to us, years earlier, that mom had passed,” he said, adding “Talk about confusion.”
After they were released from the orphanage, Gaudioso and his brothers took charge of their mom, visiting her and later transferring her to an apartment, where one son lived with her.
But within three months she passed away.
Decades later, Gaudioso is unable to understand what motivated his father to take these steps.
“Dad was a talker. He was regarded as the type who assumed he was in charge. His friends included tough guys as well as co-workers who were treated professionally,” he reflected.
Gaudioso is retired and lives with his wife. The present and future are secure but looking back on those years, he can only revisit the painful years of isolation, loneliness and confusion.
Three Weeks, A Lie is not the only book that Gaudioso has written. His first venture into publishing produced three children’s stories: “Smoky,” “Smoky’s Adventure” and “Smoky to the Rescue.” He is now working on the latest in the Smoky series, “Uptown – Not.”
But the captivating memoir following his and his brothers’ plight as they learn to cope with an unfortunate reality is perhaps the best story.
“Painful memories entombed in my past prompted penning my autobiography,” Gaudioso said.
Three Weeks, A Lie is available as a paperback, hardback and e-book at Austin Macauley: and at