Yesterday, another beautiful gift from the weather-person, my friends Jack, Marie and I, strolled down for their first visit to my beloved San Damiano. I never tire of being there and always find comfort and wisdom from the things I witness at the tiny place where St Clare started her order. I
enjoy sharing this experience with those who have never been but always warn them that as we descend the hill, please keep in mind that we will eventually ascend. Never do I venture out without this in mind and without the gentle reminder.
On our way back to Assisi Center, after the ascent and the requisite observance of the olive picking in the grove that lines the road, we neared the top of the road and I just knew what my friends were thinking.....another set of hills. It is always at this juncture that I take great pleasure in telling the first timers "I have a wonderful surprise for you!!" I don't let on until I drag them through a parking lot where tour busses park for the day. We continue to make our way alongside the paved lot and then the big reveal happens.....a double set of escalators! You'd have to be a rock to not be pleased at this sight at that time. The Italians are clever in that they rarely will waste anything, not least of all, electricity. So, the escalators appear to not be working until....you step onto the first step and then, magically, the steps start to make their happy movement upwards.
Yesterday, as I, Pied Piper I have turned out to be, led my tiny pack, we took on another member. If you know me, you know I talk to strangers. An erstwhile friend found that to be one of the things she didn't like about me but instead of ditching the habit, I said farewell to the friend. New Friend of the day, it turns out, was a lovely American woman from Long Island, formerly from Manhattan. Okay, game's on! She quickly joined us in our trek and was just as eager as Jack and Marie to find out what the big deal of the day was going to be. She was equally delighted to learn about the escalator and as we chatted about her Italian visit. What usually happens when women start chatting, we quickly revealed facts about our lives. Duh, it's me talking here.
I told Joan, my new pal, all about my visit to Assisi in 2012 and found out that she also had been here during that time frame. She was mourning the death of Erik, her beloved husband of thirty years. I was mourning the death of my mother as previous blog posts attest. Needless to say, I had to tack on the story of why I am now here for an extended stay. I gave her the whole Nine Yards about how my father was falling into disrepair slowly (like the church in the 12th Century!) and the time had come for his next step, an unwilling entry into a nursing home. I elaborated about how difficult it would have been had I been on the scene each day, with his constant pleas to take him home. (Lynn's coming tomorrow to get me OUT of here!!). So, my next words after my little diatribe were...."but Joan, it's all good". Without missing a beat, she rolled up her sleeve and revealed a little white rubber band type of bracelet upon which was printed the words
Before our jaunt to S. Damiano, we three attended Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis, one of the most sacred places on Earth, and I made my intention - I asked only that my father find peace in the decision we had to make in placing him in a nursing facility, that a way be found to convince his demented mind of this need. It was my only prayer for the entire day. As a nurse, I know, and have told numerous people over the years, that a hip fracture in a person of advanced age, usually starts them on the road to change. Rarely do they return to their homes and nursing homes become the inevitable next step.
It's out of the hands of the family now.
It's all good.
The angel, Joan, told me in no uncertain words, what I longed to hear. I am, and will be for a long time, wearing the little white bracelet as a constant reminder.
I believe in angels. This place is LOADED with them. You just have to open your eyes and in many cases, your mouth. It's my story, and I'm not changing it.