I lost my heart to Italy. I’m completely smitten.

Finally I’ve found a place where it’s ok to have a raised voice in normal conversation. Where I found a market and bought the best pesto I ever had, plus real ciabatta and vine-ripened tomatoes and the lemons and oranges still had their leaves attached. Where the espresso and cappuccino is first-rate and the gelato is beyond words.

Thursday night I went to Rome with a friend and her son, with plans to spend four days there. Yesterday was a fantastic day of getting our bearings and relaxing and being charmed by the way the Italians enjoy life. We did a bus tour then sat at the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain and soaked up the sun and atmosphere. The crowds–I never saw so many people– were happy and not too obnoxious.

All I could think to say was “It’s really real.” The ruins, the faded walls of the houses, with geraniums and greenery on the balconies. They’re real. The cafes where four men at a table all talk at one time. I saw/heard them. It’s not just in stories and pictures. It’s real. The smiling clerks who never hurry. The lack of a personal bubble of any size. It’s how they live. The crazy driving and the crazier pedestrians and the parking that’s so tight you can’t walk between the cars. It’s a mad, happy chaos that could become addictive.

All the pomp of the pope and his attachments are pretty much lost on me. It made me sad to hear that the Vatican is considered the heart of Christianity because I know what Jesus would say about the wealth and power it wields. But I had my heart set on seeing the Sistine Chapel, and paid a deposit yesterday to join a tour this morn.

Then in the evening my sister called while we were meandering toward a park. It’s my grandpa. A brain hemorrhage. He’s got only several hours.  Later the text: he died during the night.

Today I spent all day alone, travelling back from Rome to Warsaw. The map worked and I could walk to the right street for the bus. (You have no idea how huge this is to me.) I had an espresso in a simple cafe and read Psalm 90 in a piazza while waiting for the airport bus. I cried and read by turns during the hours but I cried when Wizz Air said they’d charge 10 euro for the cabin baggage, but the agent said it no, they charge 20. And then no, it’s 30 because the airport gets a commission. It felt like extortion and deceit to me, and my tolerance was in short supply.

But finally I’m home and  doing laundry and packing to leave for Indiana with my sister in the morning. I’m glad and sad to go. The week will have tears and laughter. There will be grandma and parents and aunts and uncles in grief, babies to cuddle, stories to re-tell and reasons to laugh. I want to celebrate my grandpa whose itchy feet I inherited. Whose solidity and faithfulness gave us a legacy that I don’t even realize fully.

I guess it figures that tonight I feel completely scattered.

11 thoughts on “Scattered

  1. Deepest condolences. Losing someone is so hard, even if you know they are well and happy and with the Lord. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  2. I’m so glad you got to spend enough time in Rome to lose your heart there. Maybe you’ll get to go back someday.
    I’ll be thinking of you all and praying for you these next few days.

  3. I’m sorry too Anita. Hate the timing…. I wanted you to enjoy all that was on the list to see in Italy. But thankful that you get to come stateside for the closure you need.

  4. Our family has intersected with your mother’s parental family in many ways. I treasure my friendship with the family. I believe your grandpa influenced many people in a positive way, exemplifying what a walk with the Lord looks like. May his legacy live on in his descendants. I’m so sorry you couldn’t finish your vacation, but grateful that you can come “home” to join your family for this special time together. Feeling scattered? I would, too. Blessings, grace and peace. –LRM

  5. Grandpa John was truly a special man! Back in the latter 80s we were in ES together after the earthquake at a time when we needed each other. Have a real special time celebrating his life!

  6. Oh Anita. Sorry about your trip cut short. I’m glad you have the opportunity to be at the funeral for your Grandpa even if the timing wasn’t what we would ask for. May this be a precious time with your extended family.
    Sometime, do go back to Italy so we can experience the rest of the trip through your eyes.

  7. Anita, I am so sorry. I feel all scattered and emotional for you. I wish Indiana would be closer to PA. Prayers, hugs, and tissues for all that you are experiencing.

  8. I’m glad you were able to make it for the funeral. You had a very special grandfather…thank you for giving us a window into his life and allowing his influence to spread still further…

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