“Mom, can I borrow the car?” These are words I never thought I’d be saying at my age, but here we are sleeping in my childhood bedroom and borrowing my Mom’s car. Nick and I had planned to be “home” in upstate New York at the end of August to spend six weeks visiting family. Sadly, my Father passed away last week while we were in Italy. So we packed up all of our stuff, rescheduled our departure flight and came home to say goodbye to our Dad.
We refer to upstate New York as home, but we sold our house here. Our furniture and household stuff has been dispersed. So this area isn’t really home anymore. If I was going to give it a more appropriate title it would be “the place where many of the people we love live”, but that’s an awkward mouthful. It’s easier to call it home.
Casa Bandita, our rustico in Italy, felt strange when we first arrived there. I remember the exact moment that it started to feel like home. We’d only been there a day or two when Nick cooked a chicken in the oven. As Casa Bandita filled up with the smell of roast chicken, it became our home. We knew that we would only be there for 7 months, but it was still home.
As our time at Casa Bandita was winding down, we made plans for our next adventure. We had vacationed in Mexico last November and fell in love with Tulum. Our plan was to spend six weeks visiting family in New York and Ohio before heading to Mexico for the winter. Nick found a jungle house in Tulum for us to rent. I booked round-trip airline tickets. We daydreamed about sitting on white sand beaches, eating tacos and swimming in cenotes.
As it turns out, our time in Italy ended abruptly. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning it was clear that we had to get home quickly to say goodbye to my Dad and to provide support to my much loved step-Mother, Mary. By Wednesday afternoon, he was gone. We flew out of Rome to JFK on Saturday morning. Those last few days in Italy were spent cleaning and packing in a haze of sadness. Sad because we didn’t want to leave Italy. Sad because returning home meant facing the loss of my Dad.
After spending six months in Italy, life here feels a bit foreign to us. We wander through the supermarket, almost giddy over the selection and horrified at the prices. We had forgotten that we need to avoid the Northway at rush hour, even though I spent 12 years commuting on it. The trains that run near my Mom’s house seem much louder than they used to. We miss Italy and we miss Casa Bandita.
We’ll make the most of our time here. We’re enjoying spending time with my Mom. Bella, who at best tolerates other people, absolutely loves my Mom. That makes it easy to stay at her home. My Mom is enjoying Nick’s cooking and it’s nice to see that she has a hearty appetite.
We want to help Mary through this difficult time. She was a devoted and loving wife to my Dad, and will need love and support through the grieving process.
It will be fun to go to the horse races in Saratoga while we are here. We want to take a day trip to New York City. Our grandchild in Ohio celebrates his first birthday in September and we plan to be there for the party. One of our daughters is buying her first home near Syracuse, New York and we’re hoping to spend a few days in her new home. I need to get Bella’s paperwork ready for her entry into Mexico. I’m not sure if these 10 weeks will drag-on or fly-by.
I’ve thought a lot recently about how I define “home”. As long as Nick, Bella and I are together, we are home. This is home again, at least for now.