Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Dr P's ears got syringed out a couple of days ago and were cleared completely of all the wax, and all of a sudden I can speak to him in a fairly normal tone of voice and he can hear me! And the radio and TV too. Oh bliss! It has made quite a difference. My next trick will be to get him to the audiologist. He says no, but I say yes.
I spent much time preparing my argomento for the Wednesday Italian class. We take it in turns to prepare something on a topic of our own choice. I find it difficult to choose a topic, and the other three class members always come up with very interesting things. I gave an account of my trip, in the company of one of my sisters, and her husband, to the island off the coast of Croatia where my maternal grandfather was born. Our father and two of our siblings had made a visit years before, and we knew we had cousins there, who had for some years lived in Australia but had then returned to the island.
We made this trip in September, 2001, very shortly after the attack on the Twin Towers of 11 September. My sister and her husband had been on a cruise in the Mediterranean, and this finished about the same time as my tour of Italy. We took advantage of this and organised a trip to the island. There were only four days available. To get there we had to fly to Dubrovnik and then go by ferry to the island of Korcula, where we booked an overnight stay. The next morning w took a taxi to the village, and on arrival our taxi driver asked an old man sitting outside a house where we might find our cousin. To our great surprise, we heard a voice answering us, speaking English with an Australian accent. This woman had married a man from the island and they had returned there to live. Naturally they knew everyone. She knew where our cousin was, telephoned her and she came immediately. Our taxi had stopped just outside the house where her parents in law lived.
It was a very emotional meeting for us. I am sure there is such a thing as recognition of one's blood kin, and that we experienced it on this visit. Although we had less than a day together, we felt we loved the family immediately and this cousin in particular. Her life seemed a hard one to us. She was married with two children, and her husband was a sailor, who was away for half of the year. His parents were quite old and his mother had suffered a stroke which had left her quite disabled. Her memory came and went, but she was able to recollect much of the family history. Our cousin had the care of her in-laws. Although it was many years since her school days in Australia, she was still able to speak perfect English. We went to the village pub while the family had lunch. It was a Sunday, and we had not been able to contact them before our arrival. At the pub, the men from the village were all sitting around, drinking and playing cards. No women were there, and all the men stared to see two women arrive. There was no food available, so we just had a glass of wine. My sister showed the waitress the photos her daughter had taken on her visit a couple of years previously and the waitress recognised our cousin's father, who was in the pub, and brought him over to us. His daughter joined us and we spent some hours together before it was time to return to the main town. She drove is back, as she was meeting her daughter there. I was amazed, when we met her son, to find there was a resemblance to my own son. Yet, looking at my son, I don't see any resemblance to my side of the family. Evidently my genes lie low, lurk, and do not manifest themselves in obvious ways.
Since our visit one of my brothers has also visited. He spends a lot of time researching the family history and the amount now known about many of our relations is immense. Our visit remains a very precious memory for us all, and it was good to relive it. As for recognising the blood tie, little kids seems to bond very readily with their grandparents and other relations, especially their cousins. I noted this with my own children. We lived far away from our families, but when we visited each other, it was remarkable how quickly and strongly the family ties re-emerged. I note that as we are aging, my brothers and sisters and I, we want to spend more and more time together.