Going home for my Dad’s funeral was obviously a sad experience but I was surprised that it was also a beautiful experience. It was wonderful and truly comforting to spend a week with my family: five siblings (most of whom I’m very fond of), my grieving Mom, and a BIG extended family. I introduced Mark to an old high school classmate who was also my fifth cousin, which is probably the best example of what an extended family really means. Lots of my own first cousins as well as well as a few remaining aunts and uncles, and some of my own nieces and nephews. Really not much more to add except how comforting it was to share it all with my brothers and sisters and their families.Beyond that there was also a couple of opportunities to genuinely celebrate. One of my great-nephews – my older brother’s grandson – had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer almost two years ago; he was given just a 20 percent chance of survival. But survive he did and in fact got a clean bill of health from an MRI scan while we were there and then got his final “port” removed (basically a tube into his chest so they could administer drugs without hooking him up anew every time). So we lost my 83-year-old father but gained a cancer-free nine-year-old at the same time. My Dad would have been the first to approve of that trade.
And then I learned that another of my relatives, a smart and charming 12-year-old, had just recently come out. I spent some time talking with him about his experience and the response at school and could just really celebrate the progress we’ve made. It was inconceivable that a 12-year-old could have come out when I was in school – I’m sure they’d have sent him to electro-shock therapy or something like that – but now it’s pretty much OK and increasingly normal. He’s happy, comfortable, and reasonably well accepted. I told him about the “It Gets Better” website, built to help LGBT teenagers experiencing harassment, except apparently it’s already good; there’s not much needed for him at least in terms of getting better. That makes me very, very happy.
So yes, my Dad’s death and the funeral were sad. Very sad. But it was also a week to celebrate family and some other good things in life. But after a week at home it’s time to go back to Italy and resume our previously scheduled programming. Next stop, Tuscany.