I Get By With a Little Help from My Famiglia

September 27, 2016

It’s that time. I am moving on. But how? No matter how much I want to move to Italy, how do I actually make that happen?

Moving to Italy has been a dream of mine since I was 19 years old. I have envisioned myself living in a smaller town by the sea where everyone is Italian and I can walk to the beach. This year I made the commitment to finally do it.  I began to prepare months ago.

I thought it would be a smooth process. I was so excited to go there that I wasn’t paying attention to the subtle signs around me. Have you ever wanted to do something so badly that your tunnel vision of the end result obscured your surroundings?

In July I spent weeks with my cousin Maureen plus all of my siblings and my father. It felt like when we were children again, teasing each other, laughing about different events and sharing meals. It began to hit me that soon this would not be happening. And I questioned my decision.

Maureen lives in Los Angeles and comes home to Minnesota every summer for her dose of family. However, she doesn’t like to fly and doesn’t think she can visit me in Italy. I shocked her by saying “Maureen, we may not see each other for years if you won’t come to Italy. I will probably come back to the states at Christmastime because Magnolia (my granddaughter) has her birthday on the 26th.  I won’t be here in the summertime. And I must choose my daughter and granddaughter for visits.” It shocked her and, frankly, it hit me too. Maureen and I are so very close.  Is this the right thing to do?

Speaking of Magnolia and Stephanie, my daughter, I had been hoping that somehow, some way they would move to Italy with me. Of course that wasn’t realistic. And now it is affecting me. When will I see them? If they need me how long will it take for me to get to them?

My mother has been gone for 13 years. My father is 92 years old. Am I being selfish wanting to follow my bliss? Is it worth it?

These are some of the emotional challenges we all face when we rock the boat, step off the path and try something new. It has been more difficult to begin the process of leaving than I thought it would be.

It has been a journey of discovery accompanied by plenty of soul searching. But I am going to move to Italy. I have given myself a year at least to see how it feels.

For me, another factor of moving to Italy means letting go of STUFF. Good Lord, I have downsized several times in the last 15 years. This should be easy, right? Wrong!

I started out going through photo albums. I set a goal of one bin of photos. And I did accomplish that goal with a huge portion of tripping down Memory Lane and stumbling onto Melancholy Road. I gave away hundreds of photos of my siblings and their families. So many memories of Christmas mornings as children and with our own children. Wrapping paper flying, kids and adults giggling and Santa arriving. Bisnonna e Nonni, Zii (Great-grandmother, and grandparents, Aunts and Uncles), most long gone but the memories returned as fresh as the sunset tonight. It was sad to say goodbye and, yet, they are a huge reason for my desire to return to their home country and experience it for myself.

After the photos there were all the antiques I inherited from the family. I have stories attached to each piece. I even inherited a rocking chair from our neighbor, Mrs. Peterson, who passed when I was about 10 years old. She was 90 years old when she died. She told me her mother had rocked HER in that rocking chair. I remember her washing her hair in rain water outside sometimes. She would then towel dry her long, grey locks and twist them into a bun. She would rock in her rocking chair in the back yard and invited me into her home for cookies and milk. To me, she was peace inside the chaos of our large, loud Italian family, a temporary escape. That chair has been a place of peace for me, and a place where I rocked my own daughter. How could I part with it? Finally, I gave it to my sister-in-law who is Part Swedish. I felt like she understood why it was important and her heritage was a part of it too. I let it go.

My brothers and sister took some of the other pieces. I kept the China from my grandmother and my mother. My sister will store it for me for the next year.  If I choose to stay in Italy I will ship them over and a few other items.

Still, the selection process took so much longer than I anticipated. I ran out of time and kept too many THINGS.  Where can I store it? How will I move it? Why can’t I let it go?

Luckily the storage and transport of my STUFF was handled by my siblings, their mates and two nephews, Angelo and Zach! Now we all range in age from 66 to 53 years of age (except Zach and Angelo). Yet, as always, my family was there for me. Even when they don’t always understand why I need to do things like MOVE to ITALY, they are there for me.

My sister Patrice is a godsend. Not only has she spent days helping me when I was too morose to move or pack, she and her partner Diana have offered me a place to lay my head and store my STUFF until I leave for Italy in January. They are both being so generous with me. But I have to say that my sister Patrice is probably the best human being I have ever known. She is kind, funny, generous to a fault, and always there to help others. She has been there for me all of her life as I have tried to be for her.  I waited through 4 brothers and 12 years to have a sister. I got the best one.

How do I let this all go if I cannot even let some of my STUFF go? I will say goodbye to all of my siblings and my father on Christmas night. I will then fly to Washington State and be there for Magnolia’s sixth birthday on December 26th. We three women, Nonna, Mamma & Nipote Magnolia, will share two weeks together before I fly to Rome. How can I do this?

Somehow, I will get by with a little help from my Famiglia. They encourage me to follow this dream. They want me to put myself first this time. Even my father! He said the following to my sister, “I know she wants to go to Italy. What’s she waiting for? For me to die? I could live another 20 years!” I keep hearing that Beatles song, I get by with a little help from my friends.  My best friends are my family. Sono una donna fortunate.  I am a lucky woman.

Would you like to visit me in Italy? Would you enjoy experiencing Italy like a local? I can help you with that from the states or from Italy. I can be the friend that helps you get by.

Ciao for now!

Ciao for now!

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