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How could my last day been better.

Up to my final leave taking today, I will be playing the giveaway game.  I give a small bag of fruit to Teresa and Vittoria and I get a tomato.  I take some pasta and flour to Mariucha and she gives me a persimmon.  This will go on until I board the train with my sandwich and apple from home and whatever my neighbors thrust into my hand as I leave.

At least I know that Jessica will accept the last of my wine and limoncello, drive me to th train and pull away.

Yesterday was a day of goodbyes.  After a morning of rain the clouds swept away and the sun shone on everything.  I had some last minute photos to pass out and was lucky to run into Antonio and Tonino early in the day.

Jeni, Pete, their son, Simon, Jessica and I had one of those luxurious – only in Italy – lunches that lasted 2 ½ hours filled with wonderful food, drink, laughter and conversation.  Then Jessica took us to her place in the country; a house in a vineyard with a view to the sea.  The dream that she is living will become a heritage for her children whose Italian father died when they were young.  It’s her real life, now, however.  She is planning to stay here for a year or two on the land that she bought five years ago. .  Jessica has been my entertainment, my compatriot and my entrée into time with some locals. Cheers to her!

Leaving Jeni and Pete at the train station was hard.  The day after I arrived in Scalea, they and their daughter picked me up and took me to the market in Diamante.  Since then, at least once a week we have had time together.  I might be a walk, lunch, or dinner, but it is always joyful and interesting.

They lead (to me) an idyllic life, which to them seems an obvious lifestyle.  The weather is bad much of the time in Birmingham, England, so they leave…for two or three months at a time…several times a year.  Cambodia, South America, Italy, Thailand, you name it, if the sun is shining it will probably become a destination.  Yet they are family people who enjoy visits from their children and grandchildren when they aren’t home with them.

It’s hard to imagine that we may not see each other again.  Sigh!  This may take some plotting and planning.

I sat with Miss Cranky on a bench in the Piazza.  Since we have such limited language, we tend to say the same things a lot.  I answer the questions of when I am leaving, why my husband isn’t here, when am I coming back and will I give her more jewelry (smile) over and over.  But I have learned to just “sit” in Italy, too.  She touches my hand; we watch the occasional passerby and crane our necks to see what Teresa is doing on the other bench beyond the trees.  Miss Cranky pinches my cheek and I move on.

Teresa is hard to leave, also.  In spite of her sorrow and tears, she is a ray of sunshine on the corner.  Yesterday she was scraping squash seeds to dry for next year.  She is always watering, planting and gazing around at her small world.  She has given me a feeling of home several times each day as I pass by.  Earlier she was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t coming for lunch again.  She’s like a mother who wants you to go enjoy yourself with friends but would be truly joyous if you just stayed at her side and shared her day.

And then there was the last evening on the bench with Lavinia.  We had our Gelato first since there were men on our bench.  She’s good at lurking, though, and they moved and offered us a seat.  Our unidentified friend joined us after a while and I was able to give her a photo of the five of us.  It’s comforting to sit with them.  I listen to their conversation without understanding all of it.  I know they are discussing what is going on in the families of the passersby and I recognize the continuing saga of their own children and grandchildren.

As usual, I walked as far as the Antica Ostería with Lavinia.  I handed over her bag of groceries, she smiled, promised to write, patted my face and limped away after the typical, “Ciao, ciao, ciao!”

Today are the final goodbyes in the neighborhood.

It was a highly emotional morning with Teresa.  She took me on a tour of her house and cried at every photo.   I hated to leave her in despair.  She has a three-bedroom home full of stuff and feels every empty bed.  Love that woman!  Learned that it is her son who died, not her daughter.  I left with tears of joy, though.  As I was trying to figure out how  to leave her, someone knocked on the door.  I’m not sure what members of her family, but a woman and two men entered to her cries of joy and disbelief.  I quietly left.  Thank God for great mercy.  She will have a wonderful day.

From the sublime the ridiculous.  Said goodbye to Mariucha this morning, gave her a photo that will be admired and added to the stash in the bottom drawer.  I left her more of my food supplies and managed to get out with only a cup of coffee.  I couldn’t leave without her telling me never to go anywhere but Italy because Romania, Poland, Turkey and all other countries basically stink according to her.  See ya, Mariucha.

And Rose Alba.  She has welcomed me at least once every day to sit at a table at her hotel.  Sometimes I order something.  Sometimes not.  Always she is friendly and tolerant of the time I spend using the internet.  I entertain her by showing her the photos I take and the rest of the time she sits patiently waiting for customers for the bar/restaurant: an espresso here, a beer there.  Her sons wander in and give her a break and she is obviously a friend to many townspeople who join her at her table.  She wants to come home with me and I would take her.

Now it will be Jessica and the train.  Goodbye, Scalea.  Goodbye, wonderful friends.

I’m leaving home and coming home.