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Goodbye Mary

It would have been impossible to leave Milano without saying “goodbye” to Mary.

Our first meeting is a story in itself, finally happening last March after much anticipation. We’ve seen each other a few times since then, meeting in the little office behind the cemetery chapel.

Today I showed up in the afternoon, after the typical Italian lunch break, with red lilies in-hand for Mary. I found her at the altar, preparing everything for the next Mass. She lit up in surprise, and immediately went into the back room to split the lilies into 3 vases: 1 for either side of the altar, 1 for the Madonna.

She’s the sweetest, and implored that I NOT move away from Milano. But as I’ve told her before, I have family, friends and work back in Seattle that pull me there, so I must go. Don’t think she didn’t try to convince me to stay though!

We sat at her desk and talked for a long time. We exchanged mailing addresses and I told her that, with the computer, I can call her for free. She was thrilled.

She rummaged through the cupboards, wanting to send me home with gifts. She found a bottle of Muscat sparkling wine produced by the friars, a bracelet with pictures of 12 saints, a rose-scented rosary, a little bottle of holy water and half a dozen copies of the photo of Don Giuseppe Gervasini, Milano’s very own protector. If I carry his image with me, he will protect me from all harms, she explained.

Mary also gave me a couple dozen pages on which she has written, in her “rotondo penmanship”, the names of the dead being honored at the chapel masses.

Father Francesco came into the office a few times. I had met him in my previous visits; during the last, Mary asked him to bless me for the answer to my prayers.

When we finally said our goodbye, I said “first, an Italian kiss, then an American hug”. We kissed on both cheeks, actually several times, then I gave her a big hug goodbye.

What a dear, dear lady. Meeting her has been one of the great treasures of my time here.

  1. patruJuly 21,10

    Look at that expressive face — those eyes, and that big grin. Obviously she is as enamored with you as you with her! I bet she reminds you of Grandma!

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