It was Easter when Sis called and said Mom was in the hospital. She said she seemed to give up on life. All she talked about was Dad and how she would meet him soon. And soon it was; within a month, Mom joined dad.
I missed my parents. It was Mario who told me that Mom and Dad had led a good, full life. They always told my sons how proud they were of their family. They said they were more than blessed with their children and their families. How many grandparents live to see their great-grandchildren.
I missed them. Geno visited with a young boy and girl. “Dad, meet your grandchildren.” I looked confused.
“When I returned to school, one of my students was accused of stealing food. He told me he was helping two street kids. I asked him where these kids were, he said in his dorm room. He was hiding them in the closet. I went with him to his dorm room, and he introduced me to these little ones. The story even gets stranger. They were living in a shed, sharing with some older man who they said was their grandfather. The grandfather was found dead one night and never came home. The boy, who was two years older, went out to hunt for food. My student saw him going through some garbage behind a restaurant. Brought them home and started to steal food from the local grocer to feed them.”
“That is a strange tale. No one noticed them living in that shack?”
“Why didn’t the student take them to an agency? Surely there are places in Milano where they would take care of these children.”
“I suggested that. He said they would probably split them up, and he didn’t think that was right. Then I found out he was orphaned but old enough to live on his own. His sister, who was 10 years younger, was taken, and he never saw her again.”
I thought that boy must have an interesting story. He survived and is in school. Geno taught at the university level. I looked at the children, they were cute, and the boy was very protective of his sister. “So, why are they with you?”
“I have adopted them.”
I just looked at Geno. There was no way to hide my tears. I hugged him, “Let’s go and celebrate.”
Yes, we ate at Bianchi’s, and then we took a boat ride. The children were smiling; the little girl was sitting on my lap as we sailed on the boat. Geno stopped the boat about two kilometers from the coast. He and the boy fished. “Geno, what are their names?”
“This young man is Marcio, and this young lady is Maria. I call them M one and M two.” The children heard their name and laughed. Geno spoke to me in English, but he told me their names, speaking Italian.
We had to take the two fish they caught home. Geno and his family stayed for two days with me, and then I joined them in Milano. “Dad, if they can stay with you, I’ll come down on weekends. I could arrive Friday night and leave on Monday morning. I can arrange my classes to do that. What do you say?”
“More important, what do they say.”
I listened, as Geno explained to the children. They would look at me, then look at him. I would judge they approved of the arrangements. I did meet the young man who was taking care of them before he got in trouble. He came with the children. I never asked Geno if he adopted him as well. He was 21 too old to be adopted, but he was a great help with the children. They trusted him.
And so my house became full again. Pictures taken, sent to the States.
During their breaks from school, the boys came and stayed at the house. It was their home away from home. I was always pleased to have the house full again.
During the summer, all of the boys and their families came home for a vacation. I don’t know how they manage it, but I had at least two weeks with all of them. The grandchildren learned about nesting. The boys would sleep in one room, the wives in another room. Roberto, being the oldest, took the room across from mine.
Geno spent the summer with me. With the Captain’s help, we took to sailing to some of the countries close by the southern tip of Italy, fishing as we went.
I was a rich man, not in money but in love. My boys showed me that the most significant thing I ever did, was adopting them as my sons.