When my Sicilian Grandmother Borzellino died, my mother and her brother had issues over my grandmother’s wedding and engagement rings. He kept them, although my mom was supposed to get them. Mom was not a spiteful, mean person but she was easily wounded. This broke her heart (after her mother’s death broke her heart) and she could not find it in her to talk to him… for ten years.
My siblings and I woke up to this fact sometime in our pre-teen era and decided this was completely ridiculous and unacceptable. She HAD to make peace with her brother and move on. Life was too short- he WAS family and important. We would not take no for an answer, no matter how uncomfortable it would be for her. We ganged up on her, all four of us kids and she listened.
That was many decades ago and because that side of the Sicilian family has such pathetically unhealthy hearts, everyone dies at a young age. We lost track of our cousins over the years with no aunts and uncles to glue us together.
By my older sister, JoAnn, is one of those first born, very responsible children who reads the obituaries on a daily basis and calls me up quite frequently with yet another cousin or friend of the family who died and do I want to go to the funeral. It is nearly an hour drive for me into Reading and I pick and choose who I go in to see laid out. In reality, my sister is not fond of seeing dead people, she is very fond of reconnecting with alive people from our past who meant something to us- the ones who we can still reconnect with. I get this and agree.
I also no longer question who shows up in my life and why. I just always assume that there is a reason and to honor it. So when my cousin, Teenie died this past week, I met my siblings in Reading and attended the funeral. There, I reconnected with my cousin, Bobby, Teenie’s brother who who is my age, and whom I had no idea we had so much in common. I invited him to come up and hike with me sometime and that very next day, he telephoned for a date. Wow. That was quick. We set a date very shortly after the funeral, (today) he came for breakfast and a hike and we found scores of things we had in common- mutual loves, some that he shared with no other friends, including blood relatives. Which incidently, is a very strong one. I learned that from traveling to Poland and Sicily to find our relatives and was shocked and awed at the connection to our cousins over there. Family ties and blood lines is one of the strongest connectors in life and should be honored and nurtured, I believe.
I don’t remember EVER having a conversation with my cousin Bobby when I was growing up. He was a boy cousin and shy. I can still see him in my mind’s eye as a youngster, however. We are only 2 months apart. That in itself is a special bond. But we have a love of hiking, mountains and nature in common- he paints, is a photographer, writes music and plays instruments (like my son Bryce), is creative and believes in metaphysical principals like spiritual connection etc.
I wasn’t looking for a new friend when I agreed to attend my cousin’s funeral, but that is what I might have found. Bobby Borzellino said he would like to hike more and I told him I do this everyday, call me and I mean that. Next hike, I think I think I’ll slip my grandmothers’ rings on, just to celebrate and summon all those Borzellinos who have already gone before us to join in on the fun.
“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly, all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”…..Linda Hogan- Native American writer