On Why


Mom, her sister that recently died, and my cousin

A recent post focused on where I went during my blogging break, but this post one is about why. Sometime this past September, my sister forwarded me an email that one of my mother’s two remaining sisters had died. Shortly thereafter, I realized that all four grandparents, Mom and Dad, and all my aunts and uncles had died – well, all but one – and one that I hadn’t seen in since 1964.

The thought of having only one person left on the family tree before me weighed on my mind for many weeks. I finally talked to my wife about what I had been thinking – the need to return to Italy, especially to see my aunt.

She asked questions, but to give her time to think, I didn’t bring it up again for about 3 weeks. Later, we agreed I would go during the time she was on a winter getaway with her sister.

Although I planned to go by myself, my wife asked if I would ask my sister to go along. I know that would be the right thing to do, but being that we are opposites, I knew 10 days was well beyond my 36-hour tolerance limit I eventually asked her because it was the right thing to do – Mama Mia, she said yes!


I’m proud of this pic in Florence

The trip was successful. All four first cousins not only greeted us upon arrival, but were active hosts treating us with wonderful meals, wine, and trips to classic Tuscan places as Pisa, Florence, Lucca, Cinque Terra, and San Gimignano. In my opinion, we were too active because travel and sightseeing wasn’t my goal. Then again, these are great sights and doing these things for us was important to my cousins!

One evening I went dancing with my oldest cousin and her husband. The same cousin also took me to the small village high on the mountain where my paternal grandparents lived. Heck, both of these experiences could be posts!

I saw my aunt every day. Even though I struggled with my words, I’m confident that she knew what I wanted to say – so in that sense, mission accomplished. I did get a chance to walk the city by myself, but not as much as I wanted.

As for my sister, no – we didn’t grow closer as my wife hoped … and once again, I will do the right thing by not saying much.

93 thoughts on “On Why

  1. I hope that this important trip was essentially a success, even if there were moments when your sister felt like you were carrying 200 pounds of wet pasta on your back. That is a beautiful shot of Florence, Frank!


  2. You are a bigger person then me Frank. I don’t get along with my brothers, my sister yeah we are ok, but brothers nah. I don’t think I would have invited them. 😉


  3. It was nice of you to invite your sister to come along and it’s such a shame your time together didn’t help you grow closer. How lovely of you to be able to go to Italy and get to know you cousins. It sure sounds like you had the very best time xx


  4. Frank, blood does not always create close ties it does sometimes allow us to forge memories worthy of us and diplomacy we will value in the future. Ask me, I have 22 or 23 siblings (not sure). I chose, wisely I hope, to not say much of them.

    It sounds as if this was truly a gift to yourself. One worth the time and effort. I am happy for you.


  5. Maybe you didn’t grow closer with your sister, but it seems as though you became more accepting that this is not, at least for the time being, going to happen. Others rarely are exactly who we want them to be, accepting this gracefully is a key ingredient to a happy life.


  6. I assume your sister does not read your blogs? And yet, I give you so much credit for A. Listening to your wife:) B. Being able to tolerate your sister. C. Knowing that going to Italy was the right thing to do, and not wanting to regret not seeing your aunt as she gets older.


  7. A trip that seems the perfect thing to do, Frank, and win-win all around. Though “being that we are opposites, I knew 10 days was well beyond my 36-hour tolerance limit” made me laugh out loud. Always good to know our tolerance levels 🙂


  8. You must have loved your visits to those amazing old towns and beautiful countryside. I would go there again in a heartbeat. I totally understand what you mean by “tolerance levels.” Seven days is my absolute maximum for most family members, and I’m sure they probably feel the same way about me. 😀 As long as your trip accomplished what you set out to do, that’s what really counts.


  9. Florence has been on top of my bucket list for many years – I have to go, because you talked me into it.
    Sorry, that your sister and you didn’t come any closer – but that is life at times and I’m glad that your shoe got a chance to cry in Italy too. It’s a great photo, Frank.


  10. Frank it was the right thing to do… Sisters might not be tolerable.. but when they’re gone you miss them… I did mine… or maybe I just missed the automatic fight.. don’t know…


  11. You’re a better man than I – you can at least tolerate being in the same room with YOUR sister! Well done, indeed. And I can sympathise a bit on the shortage of relatives, as I only got to meet my father’s sister when I was VERY young, and only really got to know her husband. Seems that longevity is a trait sorely lacking in BOTH my parents’ family trees. Yikes! (Then again, my dad is still alive at the ripe age of 85, but he’s just too dang stubborn to die. Seriously. I can see him browbeating the Grim Reaper until the poor fool just walks away, leaving my dad alive out of sheer cussedness! 😀 )


  12. I should comment more. Maybe. 🙂
    I’m looking forward to more photos, naturally. Great story, too. And I so completely understand the sister thing. oooh….. I should give mine her own blog.

    Raising cup to You, Frank, salute!


    • Victoria,
      Glad you appreciate the story. Whew … simply many emotions that were all over the map.

      As for the photos, there will be more. I’m no photographer by any means, but I started looking at things a bit different, then suddenly I was able to see more! … so I started thinking beyond point and shoot … well, at least to think, point, think, and shoot. 🙂


  13. I like emotions. It’s a genetic thing, imported from Sicily.

    Love this!!! —> “I started looking at things a bit different, then suddenly I was able to see more!” And the thing is, when you can see, you only need a point and shoot.


  14. Two sides of a coin, your sister and your aunts and cousins.
    did your sister get on well with the rest of the family?

    Glad you could make the time to see your extended family, frank.


  15. Great post. Great picture.
    I understand that our siblings aren’t always our best buddy and 2 weeks can feel like a year in that situation, but I think in a few years time you’ll be really glad you shared the trip with your sister. You’ll be able to clarify things you don’t remember and laugh and cry over certain memories with someone who speaks your language.


  16. It sounds like a wonderful trip, Frank, even if it does include having to do the right thing by not saying too much. I have family members like that, too. I’m sure they’re here to teach me something. 🙂


  17. This trip reminds me of the scene in An Affair to Remember where Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr visit his grandmother in Italy, I think. (Probably not one of your favorite movie references). I’m glad you were able to survive the trip with your closest and nearest relationship still intact.


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