Farewell America Tour, Part 1

October 11, 2016

Ciao Cugini Palumbo e Sartor

Goodbye Palumbo and Sartor Cousins

Finalmente, finally, I am out of my home and essentially a vagabond for the next two months. The path of my move to Italy beckons.

Still, there is this thing of letting go, of saying goodbye. And there are so many people I want to see before I leave the North American continent. Yes, I can hardly wait to get on that plane to Italy. I dream of the waves on the beaches of Sestri Levante and Portovenere. I ache for the cacophony of sensory stimulation in Napoli and Roma.  Yet, when will I see my family and friends again?

Part of my plan has always been to do a Farewell America Tour. After all, life is short and precious. And we are all powerless over time, life and death.

For the first part of this jaunt, I wanted to see my cousins in Canada, my Palumbo and Sartor family, and hoped to take my father with me. Papa is 92 years old and has begun the nightmare of dementia. If not now, it would never happen.

My sister Patrice joined us on the drive from St. Paul, MN to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Off we drove from Papa’s house with him feeling anxious and cranky.  After Ms. GPS Woman led us astray for ½ hour, we put her away and went by memory along the path my father recalled.

You see, he had driven this path perhaps 20 times in his life. And he had taken the train years ago before it was shut down. I hoped that would make the long drive more fun for him and for us. At first it seemed to be working.

Dad recalled many of the towns we would pass on Highway 8. We chose to stop for lunch in the tiny town of Ladysmith. After our local Turkey sandwich with gravy and mashed potatoes we asked our waitress what she liked to do around town. She paused and stated, “well, there’s not much to do at all in Ladysmith. We got a Walmart a few years ago.” I asked if they had a movie theater at least. She told us, “Yes, we have a one screen movie theater.” She was so sweet. But this city slicker couldn’t get away from quaint Ladysmith fast enough.

Next we headed for Rhinelander where Patrice and I thought we would stop for the evening. That was overruled by Papa. He wanted to try to go to Escanaba at least.  Ok, he is still the boss.

As he slept in the car while we drove we went back to using Ms. GPS Woman for directions. She always says “This is your fastest route.” Why did I trust her? Soon we were driving on Highway 8 again with a few detours Ms. GPS Woman led us along roads where no car had gone before. We were stuck behind 4-wheelers and farm equipment several times on roads too narrow for passing them. Our personal favorite was County Road Z. We were waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse and Papa slept on.

When we finally arrived in Escanaba, we found a hotel with a suite of 2 beds and a pull out sofa. That sounded perfect. My father insisted that he would sleep on the sofa bed. He liked having his own TV and bathroom and he could turn the heat up to 76 degrees. The bed, however, was like sleeping directly on the springs. We brought the front desk people up to show them the bed but they only suggested bringing in a roll away bed for us to try. That was little better. Dad slept on both mattresses and was able to sleep all night. We kept the adjoining room at 70 degrees.

Bright and early, Papa was up and showering. He wanted to get to the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie) as fast as we could. We ditched Ms. GPS Woman and followed our trusty map as we headed for Canada. Along the way we stopped in Manistique along Lake Michigan for a photo op with a lake and a lighthouse.

However Papa was getting restless and wanted to get the drive over and done. We took off for the last 2 hours of the drive to the border. I had all the passports. Papa felt anxious as we reached the customs booth. He had never had to use a passport before and kept questioning it. Luckily customs was easy and we headed for our hotel on Bay Street.

Dad was a bit confused. He kept asking how long he was staying in Canada and who was coming back to pick him up. We reassured him repeatedly that we would be here with him the entire time. But he was stuck in this rut. He also thought he was staying with our cousin Sandra and we would be at the hotel. It was difficult to watch him as he struggled. I had hoped that his old memories of visits to the Soo would help him adjust. So far it wasn’t working.

We headed to the Island. Yes, my cousin lives on an Island in the river. This place holds so many wonderful, happy memories for everyone in our family. My cousin Sandra and her entire family have always been very special to us. And the Island was a place of refuge, laughter and joy. Once we arrived and Dad was able to see Sandra, some of his anxiety flew away on the wind.

Dad immediately recognized the home, recalled sitting on the porch watching the waves lap against the boat dock, and just how peaceful it felt to be here. As we entered the home the first thing Dad did was wrap his arms around Sandra.

So much more has happened. I can’t share it all in one post. Did I mention that 20% of the inhabitants of Sault Ste. Marie are of Italian Descent? Have you ever heard of Capeletti Soup? Tune in for more.

Ciao for now!

Ciao for now!

Follow the Ciao For Now Blog!

Thank you for following! 
Ciao for Now!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Follow the Ciao For Now Blog!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form