Dear Friends, Cari Amici,
I bet you didn't expect me to be in Italy this week. I didn't either! I arrived in Cortona at midday today, in time for a stuffed zucchini lunch prepared by Enza.
When Malcolm drove me to Williamsburg on Friday evening, I thought we were going to have dinner with friends visiting from England. I was then expecting to travel to Radford, Virginia, to look after Mary's children while she was in the hospital. When I entered the lounge of the Williamsburg Inn, I remarked to Malcolm that there was man who looked just like John sitting in the window. It WAS John and with him were Mary and Ginny.
"We have come to celebrate your birthday because you will out of the country on May 20." Mary announced.
Two minutes later someone came from behind and gave me a kiss on the back of my neck. In surpirise, I turned to find Chris, my son from New York smiling down at me. I was overcome with joy.
"Have you got Patty under there?" I jokingly asked Mary as I lifted the hem of her dress.
I sensed a movement behind me and turned just as Patty was bending to place her face alongside mine.
By now strangers in other parts of the room were in tears, as were we all. Five of my six children were with me. Only Becky, who lives in Italy was missing.
"What a shame Becky is not here!" I said after regaining a measure of self control. "She would have loved this."
"Here I am Mom." I turned again and there she was, reaching down to embrace me.
Never, never, will I cease to relive that evening.
I learned that Becky would be returning to Italy and her work on Monday, just three days away. It was then that Malcolm told me we have tickets to fly to Rome that same day.
My oldest and youngest daughters, Mary and Ginny, were the instigators of this plot. Key contributors not present were Kerry, Roberto, Corrado and Lisa, spouses of Mary, Becky, Ginny and Chris. They stayed behind with the grandchildren.
Later that evening we sat in my sun porch and I opened my presents. All were special to me, but three were particularly so. Without my knowledge, the children had remade the jade ring that was cut from my mother's finger when she went to hospital and had her coral necklace restrung with gold links so that it now fits my neck. The third special present is a wondereful album of family photos compiled and edited by Mary. I am still on a high. At times I think it must all be a dream.