Steve's "Sabbatical" - Part 4
The word sabbatical has a new meaning! This is the new 2.0 version of work life balance.
Having been in Arezzo for about 3 weeks, we decided we were ready for some time in the country. Arezzo is by no means a big city, but it is a city and we felt the pull of the green hills surrounding us. We chose a little home perched atop a hill in Lecchi in Chianti. To clarify, the town is in the Chianti region of Tuscany and its name is actually Lecchi in Chianti. We found out the hard way that it’s important to include the “in Chianti” part when setting up the GPS. It turns out there is a place called just Lecchi and its 45 minutes in the wrong direction!
A couple of days before we left, my sister called from home. It was bad news, my father who has been suffering in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s for 4 plus years had taken a turn for the worse. It sounded like the end was near as he was placed in hospice.
Come Friday we found ourselves in a storybook stone home with classic Tuscan views; olive groves, vineyards, and those tall thin pines that punctuate the Tuscan landscape. Surrounding the home was a garden that could have been my backyard growing up My dad was from a tiny little village in rural Calabria. In my eyes, and much to my chagrin, especially as a teenager, I think he tried to recreate his childhood home in our backyard. Let’s just say every possible inch was growing something to eat. Later in life I would come to appreciate just how incredible this mini-farm was and the joy of eating something homegrown.
Here I should note that my dad came to the US in the early 1950’s just a few months shy of 16 years old. He came by himself and lived in a basement room in a house occupied by other immigrants. He spoke no English, had no family here, less than $100 and no clue what his future would hold. There was no texting or FaceTiming back to his family and friends. He couldn’t afford phone calls. Think about all of that for a moment and remember your state of mind at 16.
On Sunday my Dad passed away. Being in the countryside in a place that felt in some ways similar to where he grew up was ideal for reflecting. Oddly, I felt close to him despite being 4000 miles away.
I’ll never forget a beautiful little moment that happened the day before my dad passed. I was leaving the gate at our place in Lecchi in Chianti all geared up for a bike ride. A sweet little old lady who I met the day before approached me. She was nicely dressed and was holding a bouquet of wildflowers. She spoke no English and went on to tell me with teary eyes, that she was doing her daily walk to her husband’s grave so she could be with him and to say hello. Well, I teared up too.