Mother could be very kind and loving and she also had a temper. An example of both sides was when she made a couple of nightgowns for her granddaughter, which Fio appreciated, but was dumb enough to say that armholes had to be enlarged. Mother flared like a highway beacon. Why? Over armholes that were so small that Daughter couldn't get the nightgowns on?
When Fiorella was a child, a slap on the face was Mother's way of letting Fio know she had crossed a line. The slaps didn't occur that often, but enough that Fio started cringing when Mother moved quickly, which made Mother all the more angry. "It's not as if I beat you!" she'd say. But she did, although only with a yardstick. In later years, Mother always said Fio moved so fast that she could never get a good whack in, but that isn't how Fio remembers it. (If you are wondering, Fio's major infraction was not coming when called.)
Fiorella would like to tell you that she never slapped or spanked her own kids, but she did--after all, her parents were her role models. But after a couple of years of motherhood, she stopped spanking Older Son when she realized that it didn't work, that he saw the spanking as payment for whatever he had just done, and now he was free to do whatever he wanted to again. So instead, she started building a conscience in him, which was much more effective.
Mother loved her children firecely, just as Fio loves hers, but Fio has never told her children that she hit them because she loves them, that it's God's will. Where did that idea come from? Probably from Mother's own mother, maybe passed down for centuries.
But it ended with Fiorella.