Wednesday, January 10, 2007


This post may seem totally irrelevant to my life in Sicily, but please, bear with me!

On Sunday I received an email from a cousin in New Zealand, informing me that my cousin Robert, who lived in London, had died nearly two years ago. The New Zealand cousin only found out at Christmas, via a card from Robert’s wife, who said she had mislaid the NZ address.

I’m not going to be a hypocrite and pretend that I am deeply mourning Robert: I hadn’t seen him for 15 years and it was I who stopped sending the Christmas cards as I became bitter when he didn’t contact me during my mother’s last illness. [Mum had been fond of him and I’d thought he was of her.] Nevertheless I am sad and not a little shocked: he was only a few years older than me and, after all, I’m at an age when the death of a contemporary can frighten you. And when someone you played with as a child dies, you start to mourn part of your childhood, too. When we were children Robert used to alternately taunt and protect me. Later, he took me to my first international rugby match at what was then Cardiff Arms Park, and boy, was I happy to be seen with him! For he became, and remained, a stunningly handsome man. Later still, his best mate was my boyfriend for a while. Then, when I was in my early twenties and had just started teaching, Robert was kind when my Dad died.

After I moved here I decided it was time to forgive and forget and I looked for Robert on the internet [for I, too, had lost an address] and I think I found him on Friends Reunited. But of course there was no reply to the message I left for him, as during all that time when I was searching he was already dead. What a wasteful and useless emotion bitterness is. I should have confronted him with my anger instead of bottling it up for all those years. We all do our best in this life and I’m sure Robert did his.

“So how does this affect your life in Sicily?” you may ask: well, just as the death of John Peel spurred me into changing my life while I had the chance, this death has prompted me to evaluate my decision. It’s certainly not all plain sailing and I’ve still got many difficulties to overcome but I did achieve my dream. The other bearing it has on life here is that, in a region where family members often all live in the same town and even the same street, the few Sicilians I have told about it are incredulous that cousins could be so distant from each other in both senses of the word, would not have each other’s addresses and that I should have heard the news so late and in such a roundabout way.

I hope Robert achieved his dream, too. He had a son late in life, so I think he did. And it is to that young man, whom I saw only once, when he was a baby, that my thoughts now turn. As the Sicilians say:

La morte a tutti trova
E lu munnu s’arrinova

[= “Death comes to us all
But the world renews itself.”]

Ave, atque, Vale, Robert.


James Higham said...

Ach, this is a difficult one and brings back thoughts of my mother over there and guilt and all that. Far flung family is never easy.

Liz Hinds said...

Losing touch is sad. I lost touch with my cousin until fairly recently and then discovered that she felt like the hard-done-by one. I hope the loss will be a spur to the good and the positive for you; I'm sure it will.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post. Being away from America for more than half of my life, I have many relatives I haven't seen in a long time. I think about some on occasion, but I don't think I would make a special effort to contact them. Their lives have moved on as has mine. I do wish the best for them.

Anonymous said...

It's always easier to be wiser after the event. It's a case of having to be able to forgive and forget, that is what's hardest in these situations. Thank you for sharing this poignant story with us.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, James. Yes, difficult indeed. Thank you, too, Liz. I will try! Ellee, you are kind as always and you are right about how we feel after the event. Grazie.

Lee said...

We are all guilty of harbouring hurts, pains and slights, so you're not alone there, Welsh. It's times like what you're going through now that makes one re-evaluate the importance of such minor, silly little things that cause us to hold on our grievances, no matter.

We waste so much time and energy but we all do it. I think as we grow older and we begin losing loved ones, it's when we realise just how futile and unimportant it all is in the whole scheme of things.

Sometimes it is hard to forgive...and there are times I've not forgiven and I've not felt sorry about that. One must tread one's path as one sees fit.

I think the saying you quoted at the end of your post says it all in so few wonderful words.

I envy have at least stepped into your dream and are living it...even if you've faced some difficulties along the way...but each one, no doubt, has made you stronger within to face any that may be ahead.

Hold your head high, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Remember the good times you shared with Robert. That's what it's all about. :)

Bill Haydon said...

This was the beautiful post I referenced at my place.

Thanks, WL.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

tin drummer, thank you. I am deeply touched by your comment but more so by your moving tribute to your friend on your own blog.

Anonymous said...

very well written. you convey the emptiness of death.


hope everything is ok, i do look at your blog every few days!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Nice to hear from you, Tom and thank you. Yes, all OK and I think I am recovering from the post-Xmas blues I always get!

Maria said...

I am sorry for you loss. I would have done the same thing you did with cutting off contact. When my Mom died most of her family went with them. Hurt and feelings of anger and betrayal are hard to overlook. All the best... and as I have learned sometimes it's the friends we meet that become closer to us than any family. ~M


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