I was not looking forward to the lunch with an easy heart, remembering a long family history of social disasters, accusations, anger and fearsome table fights of loud voices and waving hands. "If I get up and leave you follow even if you don't understand what's going on," I said to my slightly bemused wife who grew up in a Jewish family, where gatherings were fun. There was a reason I emigrated I had to keep reminding her.
With hindsight I needn't have worried. My sisters, twins and older than me by ten years and one week got along famously after three decades of barely being on speaking terms. Tish serving Liz pasta was a picture I never thought I'd get to take.
Here they were with our late mother on the island of Capri in 1968. Not as happy as it might appear.
Liz's husband Vincenzo has become the de facto patriarch of the clan,
Nowadays a mellow grandfather.
Tish's husband Giancarlo, like us child free.
I brought everyone coconuts from my yard, a gift my wife was astonished to see was most popular.
Daniele is 35, Liz's eldest with two children of his own growing up in his Eco-home powered by solar panels, wood fires and well water. He has big plans to make his own olive oil which he is now marketing in the US. His american uncle alas is no salesman...
Dario, his younger brother is settling into the family business too. Neither speaks much English but my wife draws them out.
It's hard for me to remember that Liz and her twin were the bane of my life 40 years ago.
We did rural things after lunch. Checking Vincenzo's cows that according to his boys take too much work to raise.
I showed my sister some examples of the benefits of digital photography and to my astonishment a sepia shot came out looking like Clyde Butcher.
Then Vincenzo took us to meet his boars.
Hen was working in the woods this part winter when he heard some squealing and found these two orphans whose mother probably did a Bambi during hunting season. He took them home in his pockets and raised them in his kitchen.
They have a fearsome reputation in the wild, a cross between alligators and iguanas for ferocity, destructive tendencies and invulnerability. Here they were like puppies.
Pizzas for all for dinner, capping what was an extraordinarily amicable day for me. We apparently managed to wear Flavio out too, he of the pink crocs.
And the women cleaned up, the men talked and I went outside to reflect.
And to cap a perfect day a forty minute ride to Terni in the dark. I could ask for nothing more.
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