A grand gathering of the clan on a glorious summer afternoon this week, has transported me to a wistful place of muted resonance, soft hues, and gentleness. August brings me two companions in this peaceful Eden; two strong, beautiful women come sit beside me on the old wooden bench by the babbling river of life. One is my grandmother, the other my mother; one a beginning in August, the other an ending. My grandmother was born August 12, 1885 and lived into her 100th year; my mother died August 14, 2010 in her 90th year.
Back in May while cruising the Mediterranean, I penned this piece about my grandmother. Enjoy the cruise, while I go sit a spell with the two wise women.
Wednesday, May 15 – Ten days until we are home again. Doesn’t seem like very long, yet there is still lots more to come, and so today we take a break and stay on board the ship while almost everyone else scurries off to Pompei, Herculaneum, Vesuvius, Sorrento, or Capri. It might have been nice to go to Capri –
I have a warm memory of my grandmother talking about a trip she and Gramps made there (in the late 50’s or early 60’s??), and in particular a story about the boat trip to the famous blue grotto. I recall her talking about having to crouch down very low, down on her knees in fact, in the boat in order to enter the grotto. She clearly did not like that part. It frightened her, but the rest Capri seemed to have touched her heart.
One of my prized possessions is a souvenir Gram brought back with her. It’s a wooden cigarette box with intricate marquetry on the top. When opened, the love song “On the Isle of Capri” chimes out softly. I vividly recall sitting on the floor at Gram’s knee watching in eager anticipation as she carefully picked up the box from its place on the living room side table, and just as carefully, slowly lifted the top. Together we listened to the tune the whole way through, me savouring every note and imagining an island in Italy with its blue grotto and scary boat ride, and Gram, her head turned just a bit to one side with a gentle smile playing around her mouth, lost in a delightful far away place.
We re-visited this wonderful magical moment every time I visited Gram and Gramps as a child, and each time the box was opened just once and then gently put back in its place on the table. I don’t know who loved these side trips more. No matter how many times my grandmother’s soft fingers stretched out to gently open that wooden box, we both held our breath in anticipation of delight. And by the way, there never were any cigarettes in the box, at least not when I was around.
I doubt that Capri today could top any one of those special moments with Gram. Some 50+ years have passed since her visit, so I’m betting there have been a few changes. From what I have read, ‘quiet’ is not a word that now describes the iconic island along the storied Amalfi coast. Tourism has taken over. So I am very happy to let the magical imaginings that spilled out from the wooden cigarette box to be my ‘photos du jour’ today. I’m not ready to let the dream be shattered by the reality.