10 April 2011

LIFE: My Italy Daughters

SARONNO, Italy - This has been a week of catch-up with my  three Italy daughters. First Felicia called from Dublin. We haven’t spoken in a while, but she was one of the first people I met when I moved to Italy. When we first met, Felicia, who is from Sicily, was studying languages at the University of Genova and working part time in a language school. 
 The Wedding
It wasn't long before she started dating Eddie C., an Englishman, who also teaching at the language school. Eddie was in Italy, working on his PhD, (I think). His passion is Italian history, particularly the Italian Renaissance. He was positively smitten with Felicia.

When Eddie and Felicia decided to get married, they asked me to be one of their witnesses. I was thrilled. I had only been in Italy for a short time and had never been to an Italian wedding.  

The civil ceremony took place in the Genova Town Hall, and the photo above was taken in the ante-camera right after the ceremony. As you can see we are standing in front of a massive fireplace. Unfortunately what you can’t see is the decorated vaulted ceiling or the rest of the spectacular building, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

I confess I didn’t understand much of what was going on during the ceremony, but I knew when to get up and sign the enormous antique leather bound book that recorded my witnessing the joining of the Sicilian fireball and the staid Englishman.

After their short, but happy life on the Italian Riviera, Eddie accepted a position as a Professor of History at the University of Dublin, and off they went.  First they had one baby, and then another and the years passed. During that time I saw Eddie more than I saw Felicia as he would come to Italy every summerto continue his study of the Italian Renaissance. While he was in northern Italy, Felicia would take the children to Sicily to spend time with their grandmother and cousins.

It was so nice to catch up with her. Every time we talk she invites me to Dublin. I think this time I’m going to go.

Then yesterday, out of the blue, I got an email from Diane, another one of my "adopted daughters" from my Genova-Nervi days. Diane, Juan and their son Joshua lived in a large apartment on a hill above Nervi with a fantastic view of the sea. For Diane, the best part of the apartment was the huge terrace where Joshua, and later the twins Daniel and Anderson could play.

 That's Diane, on the left
When we met, Diane’s husband had just been hired to be the Director of the Aquarium of Genova, an Italo-American project. Juan had worked on other aquarium projects in the USA and Europe, plus he had done a stint with Jacques Cousteau.  

It was no secret that I was madly in love with their son Joshua. I never had so much fun with a kid in my life. He owned my heart. If we weren’t blowing bubbles down on the sea walk, we were feeding the goldfish in the goldfish pond at the train station. Sometimes we would cook. He was the best little sardine cleaner ever  – and oh how he loved to eat those little fried fish. Just thinking about him makes me smile. Diane always said he was “my Joshua”. I should be so lucky.

The last time I heard from her they were living in Plymouth, England. Juan was working as the Director of the Plymouth Aquarium. She wanted me to come and visit but I was in the throes of an attack of rheumatoid arthritis and could hardly walk to the bathroom, let alone make my way to England.

Now I’m sorry I didn’t go, because fter Plymouth they bought a 44 foot Catamaran and did a three year stint touring the seas. Diane said they spent about a year and a half in the Caribbean before crossing the Panama Canal into the Pacific. Then they sailed around the Pacific Islands, making landfall in the French islands from the Galapagos, and then eventually sailing on to the Cooks, Tonga, Fiji, and ultimately settling in New Zealand. What a great adventure for those kids.
 Daniel, Anderson and Joshua - All grown up
And my Joshua? He’s at the University of Otago, in the South Island studying Music Performance and Composition for piano.  He wants to write music for film. 

Diane and I have plans to Skype this weekend, which is the only way I'm going to get to see them as I doubt they will all be able to come to Italy any time soon. Juan is working in Dubai these days and I don't think a trip to New Zealand is in my future. But you never know. Stranger things than that have happened in this Italian life.

As for my third Italy daughter, Tracy, I've written about her  in the past. She's Victoria's mother, and the one I am closest to. I've been very lucky to have them in my life, and even luckier that they still care. 

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