I have to start this day with a blog. Nothing special, just a series of thoughts. I've chosen to be here, alone, in Assisi......to think. I'm also here to observe and to react to what I see and feel.
My friend Cam questioned my reasons for having to come to Italy to work on my transition from grieving person to "My Old Self". "Why Italy, why not somewhere in the U.S.? " She's a practical person, and practical people think of things like "being so far in case something happens" and "why not spend less money by not losing it in currency exchanges". But then, she spends countless hours working on her plans for retirement and her retirement funding while I don't and never did. Blind faith. I'm not going to live forever. Complete stupidity. Feel free to place whichever label you'd like and stamp it on my forehead. So far, I love living in the world of freedom from all of this planning.
So, I've come to Italy this year to learn things. Every day, I look for new learning experiences and try to better understand how and why a culture such as this one works so well for its inhabitants and defies the laws made by the Retirement Planning Association.
My husband has long said that he is truly amazed that Italy "works". Even the Italians say that they have no idea of why and how things eventually get done. It always seems that chaos prevails and that there are laws and rules that only "sometimes' apply and nobody seems to know to whom they actually do apply. For instance, my landlady posted a sign on the front door of this apartment, advising that it is a private residence and therefore, there will be no parking in front of the door. I'm thinking that she probably did that as a courtesy to me. There's a never-ending construction project going on right next door and of course, since she posted the sign, a car or a truck is parked right in front of the door steps each and every day, all day. Frankly, I would rather she had called the owners of the construction company asking that they don't start work until at least 8AM but that would be so far removed from the realms of possibility. Forget about the "getting a rest" part of why I came to Assisi!
So, why? how? what?.....how come it doesn't all fall apart at the seams and how come the culture goes on its beautiful way, untouched by the stress of ridiculous rules and regulations, total disregard for some things and total regard for others? The big "others" is actually an "other".
The Italian regard for family, la famiglia. That's what makes it all work. Complete, absolute, total loyalty and esteem for something that is and always will be there for them. Mother is the keyword. Father is the husband of Mother and therefore has a special place in the heart of every child, no matter what age. Family ties that bind it all together. That's what I see. That's what I miss.
I came here to mourn the loss of my own mother. I am asked often by people I meet about why I am here, why alone? As soon as the word "mother" comes out of my mouth, an instant understanding and a wave of compassion and understanding arrives. Sometimes, mutual tears flow, sometimes it's simply a hug, but it is always acknowledged. I'm not alone. Just yesterday I met a lovely friend of a friend of a friend who came all the way from Australia on a two month journey as she mourned the death of a dear husband. Another friend spoke of her own mother's death and said that it was the MOST profound and difficult of all the emotional work anyone has to do. Different from any other loss.
For now, I will continue to allow myself the time and the energy that it takes to complete this journey. So much good has already come of it. I speak to my father every day and he's always so happy to hear my voice. I know it comforts him and makes him feel secure and that is a gift in itself. My husband has been able to spend time with his own mother since I have been away. They are completing two weeks of time together, something that they would not have had. I know it has been good for both of them, another gift. Joe was and still is supportive of my parents, a loving son to them, especially during my mother's illness and death. His own mother should be proud of his conduct. He's a fine Italian Man. He lives the tradition. His mother, and mine, were right up there with the most important things in life. Together, he and I are a Family.
And that's why it works.