Italy: We’ve arrived! And I can’t sleep.

It’s 3AM. I just finished reading a book. I read the author’s note. I read the afterword. I would’ve read anything else, even the copyright address if it was written, but as I kept swiping the screen of my iPhone, the last page I read kept bouncing back. I learned that Rex Pickett is a real writer. I liked the beginning, a section in the middle and the beautiful ending of his latest book, Vertical (the sequel to Sideways). It doesn’t matter if I liked it or not. I read not just as a reader, but as a writer. I read it and I learned, and what I liked made it all worth its while. I learned that it’s okay, if not even good, to go straight to the audience, if you are a writer, and not wait for permission from an editor and a publisher. But I still can’t sleep.

Next to me in bed is my wife, Annie. I love her so much I’d want to wrap myself around her and whisper in her ear “I love you. You’re beautiful. I love you. You’re beautiful…”, incessantly, until I fall asleep, or she wakes up and we make love. But we just travelled across the world, almost twenty-four hours to get where we are in Italy. I know she’s very tired and I’ll do what I’d like to do now, tomorrow, after she’s recovered from the jet lag and the travel. As soon as l see her I’ll say, “I love you. You’re beautiful.”
  Between us now, in the bed, is our dog, Lucy. She travels with us in all of her eight pounds, she sprinkles our days with lightness and laughter and immeasurable amounts of love. And she snores like a drunken sailor.

But tonight’s not her fault if I can’t sleep. We spent a night and one morning with my uncle and aunt in Bologna. We love them and always look forward to seeing them and spending time together. A few months ago my uncle had a series of health issues that floored him. One of the top heart surgeons in Europe, some may say in the world, he suffered from a heart condition, first, followed by an escalating series of complications to other parts of his body. At one point, the possibility of him not making it was a reality. He lost thirty pounds and is now slowly fighting his way back to the life he remembers liking. Sometimes he doesn’t know if he’ll get it, and depression is the worst enemy.

I didn’t ask many questions. I just hugged him, I told him that I know everything will be all right, to have patience and do the best he can, one day at a time. He said he will. I really hope he will.

My uncle’s my father’s brother. After my father’s violent death, one week short of twenty-five years ago today, I find myself with a love and an appreciation for my uncle that surpasses all the things I don’t like and would like different in him. I’m grateful for his life and I’m grateful to have him in mine.

We’re staying at a horse ranch of a friend of my father’s, in the countryside of Rimini. It’s a God blessed place, abundant with beauty and marvellous people. Three generations of the family live on the premises. Annie and I call it, The Village, where farm hands and animals mingle with thoroughbreds in the first months of their lives, before they get shipped to the sister ranch in France to finish their grooming and get ready to be sold to the best buyers. The countryside is glorious, the warm stones that make the walls of the centuries old home where we are, breathe an ancient breath of lives and seasons that come and go with the same infinite power of waves breaking on the shore.

I can hear a dog barking outside. I always liked the night sounds of animals, crickets, frogs, and, in the early hours of dusk, the roosters announcing the new day to the rest of the farm.

Tomorrow I’ll see my mother. I haven’t seen her in one year. I speak to her several times every week from home in Los Angeles. She’s always extremely happy to hear from me. She asks me about work, and love, how Annie is, and she asks me if I need anything, “Just tell me if you need anything”. I reassure her that all’s good, that Annie sends her love and that I love her very much and I’ll call her in the next few days. Before she hangs up I can hear her say, “It was my son, from Hollywood.” I have to time my calls carefully, adding the nine hours that separate us to catch her right before she goes to eat dinner.

Four years ago she started loosing her memory. Everything spiraled fast. At first I felt so torn as if my guts were being ripped out of me for everything that was happening. The tension was so high I stuttered for some time, before I found my way and how to deal with things. Mostly, I had to find how to deal with myself as I showed up for things. “If I need to stutter to release the excess tension that otherwise would explode God knows how else in my body or mind, I’ll stutter”,  I thought. “I don’t care. As long as I can get myself to do what needs to be done, as best I can, one day at a time.”

Now my mother lives in a home. After several trials, she’s now well enough to go through her days, allow people to take care of her, wash her, feed her. She takes her meds, she takes walks with a nurse, she is well with the rest of the people around her, enjoys seeing my sister and her children and when she talks to me on the phone she’s always so happy to hear from me, asks me about work, and love, how Annie is and she asks me if I need anything.

The question is, will she recognize me tomorrow?

I’ll try to sleep now.

10 Responses to “Italy: We’ve arrived! And I can’t sleep.

  • Hi Peter, I hope you and Annie have a wonderful time in Italy! Best of luck with your mother and the rest of the family. I hope you got some sleep. Hugs from Orange County -Joan

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    This was something special to read. Thank you for sharing it. You gave me the chills as I read it. I can see the pictures clearly in my mind.You are a great writer I must say God Bless. Best wishes Ricardo Cordero

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Nice writing, Peter. Looking forward to the next entry.

  • Comment aimer une personne (votre oncle) si certaines choses vous déplaisent ???
    Vu ce qu’il fait il doit pourtant être plein de générosité….

    • je ne peux pas bien saisi ce que vous entendez mon français est un peu rouillé. mais je peux vous assurer que j’aime mon oncle cher (comme je le dis dans le post) et je suis profondément reconnaissant pour lui. (J’ai demandé à Google de traduire j’espere que vous comprenez)

      • Indeed translations are very bad
        Infatti traduzioni sono molto brutto

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