Stories have meaning, those we experience and those we create years later when our perception or memory of the episode has changed a bit and so is the understanding of ourselves.
What was once associated with some pain, has now become cause for laughter and amusement, a comic release of past disappointments or embarrassing moments. This moments are beneficial and a sign we no longer attribute to the experience a negative feeling rather find meaning in how we perceive it in this moment.
A honey moon in Italy where the groom invites the mother to come along!!? and the naive bride who in the most practical response possible agrees, after all the mother in law had come all the way from the US for the wedding…the least we could do is bring her with us as we travel around Italy sightseeing. Aside from the fact a Fiat convertible is not the best car to drive for 3 people since the back seat is made for very short people, it is also too cramped to extend your legs. We decided to take turns seating in back and driving, so mom could sit in the front and be comfortable.
The trip from Rome to Venice seemed longer than expected under those conditions. We survived the trip yet another fateful coincidence was expecting us. Venice is the most romantic city of all where even the gondolier sings love songs and everyone there seem to be on a honeymoon hugging and kissing in public
.Apparently our arrival coincided with a large conference and therefore there were no rooms at the Inns. Finally we found one room in town as the night approached, and the hotel manager made a suggestion to place a small bed at the foot of the matrimonial bed. By this time we were hungry tired and ready to give up on having privacy.That night we were as cozy as one could get under the circumstances and slept well enough.
I reflect on that moment and can only assume my thoughts, I think I was too tired to care. And then we took mom to Oktoberfest where the groom mostly slept in the bathtub at the end of the evening. I almost turned the water on him few times but resisted the temptation for fear of retaliation.
One thing for sure, I was beginning to have the distinct feeling this marriage was not going to last.
I went out on the deck with tall oaks surrounding me, a full moon shining above and remembered my father. I remembered when I was tall enough, my nose barely reaching the table top, watching his hands making gnocchi; I loved the small dumplings.
His hands were strong yet gentle rolling the dough and cutting little pieces, rolling his finger over them. Later we would spread them on a clean cloth on the bed to dry a little, before we cooked them and then covered them with a great sauce only he could make.
I thought these are the things children remember, a father hands doing something good and delicious.
He taught me how to play checkers and I would watch those big hands moving the pieces, paying attention and learning while he nodded to signal a good move or not by shaking his head a little. He did not talk much, he let me correct my move in silence, it allowed me to think and process my move in my head, developing my strategy. He was teaching me without a word and I learned fast, feeling acceptance not judgement and approval not rejection.
How many children miss that, a father who cares, is gentle, loving and patient.
I was fortunate, he gave me time, love and told me great stories. He told me real stories of his life and when he was 16, a stowaway on a ship bound to America, spending 3 months in Brooklyn waiting for a ship to take him back to Italy. As I got older, I wish I had realized the wisdom of his gifts and passed them on to my children. Patience was the greatest.
It took awhile to realize that education does not equal wisdom and that his ignorance of some things I had learned counted little compared to the wisdom he had.
I am grateful to have known someone with a heart of gold and gentle hands who could love deeply.