As the boys finished school and became productive members of society, I was left alone again. Not that I minded, the boys kept in contact. I went to their weddings, all except Geno. He wasn’t interested in women or men. He was happy teaching at the University. If I said something about him not having a girlfriend, his response was “et tu”.
When Geno wasn’t teaching, we would travel together, there were other places in Europe besides Italy, and we enjoyed our breaks. One thing we never lost sight of was the family over the holidays. All the boys and their families would get together in the States, Mom and Dad would host us. Dad retired with Sis taking over the business. This meant they would vacation in Italy every year and stay as long as they wanted.
The boys were doing well, and their families were also growing. Now I was hearing small voices calling me Nonno. Except for missing them, I was happy for them, street boys who have amounted to professionals making a positive contribution to our society.
One Saturday, when Geno was home, we went to the restaurant on the dock. I saw Captain Bruno sitting on a post looking at the sea. “Geno, go and ask the Captain to join us.”
When the Captain saw me, he waved and came over. Over dinner, he said he missed his boat. “Where is it?”
“I had to scrap it. The wooden hull had to be replaced, and it cost too much money.”
I looked at Geno and smiled; he knew I had something up my sleeve.
“Captain, have you see these new boats with fiberglass hulls. They are supposed to last a long time.”
“No, I haven’t. Most of the boats here are wooden and very old. If you do good business, you can keep them repaired. My business wasn’t that good. I made enough to live and save a little but not enough to repair my boat.”
We chatted some more about boats and fishing. The Captain missed it, and I understood how he was feeling.
I made plans to go to the shipyards in Holland. Geno and I took the train. I booked us in a hotel in Rotterdam. “Dad, what are we doing here?”
“I think I might be able to solve a problem for a friend and have some fun as well.” I had checked online, and there was a small boat building firm that advertised boats for sale. I wanted to check them out, I’m living on the coast of a beautiful sea and can’t take advantage of it.
“Geno, I want to buy a boat, but not a wooden boat.” I had contacted several boat building firms and set up an appointment over the next four days. I could tell Geno was as excited as I was.
“Dad, you’re going to let the Captain run our boat?”
“Yes, he knows the sea better than you or I, so why not.”
On the third day, we found the boat. It was perfect for us. The previous owner traded it in for a bigger boat. Geno and I checked it over and decided it would be perfect for us. There were two cabins below deck, and the bridge contained a small kitchen, gas range, and fridge plus a table that sat 4. The back of the boat was opened, so someone could fish from there.
“Dad, how are you going to get this home?”
“Easy, we’ll go and get the Captain. You and I will be the crew.”
I arranged for the boatyard to check the boat over and to set it in the water. I explained I had to go home and get the Captain to help me sail the boat home. The response, “No problem, we’ll have her in the water and fully fueled by the time you come back.”
We checked out of the hotel and headed home. The next morning, we had breakfast on the docks, looking for our Captain. “I don’t see the Captain. Do you know where he lives?”
“No, Dad.” I chuckle every time Geno calls me dad instead of papa. Ever since we started to make routine trips to the States, he began calling me dad.
We finished our breakfast. “Let’s walk along the dock, we might see him, or we could ask one of the other captains if they know where he lives.”
We walked along the dock but didn’t see him. “I guess we might be too early for him. We’ll go home and come back later.”