Friday, September 11, 2015

14 years … but never forgotten.

On September first 2001 my dream of a lifetime was starting. My friend Douglas and I were on a plane leaving Newark and heading to Italy.  He was a retired architect and a world traveler so it was a great treat for me to be able to tap into his expertise.  He was also not at all interested in expensive hotels & over-priced we were well matched. I had read an informative book entitled “Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries” and realized I could afford a month’s stay if we traveled this way. It sounded great to Douglas too and he was happy to have me do all the arranging…which I thoroughly enjoyed. (The picture above is where we lodged in Florence.)

On September 11th we had spent the day in Assisi and returned to the small town of Bavagna, where we were staying, at around 4:30. The first inkling that something was wrong was when the people in the Piazza called to us and pointed to the little bar/coffee shop/ice cream parlor, insisting that we go there. The shop boasted the only TV in the square and it was just recording the horrific events of 9-11.

I can hardly put into words how this affected me. I felt totally shocked and helpless. A nice couple from Canada took us to their hotel and we tried to make calls to our family members in the U.S., but it would be 4 days before we could get through. When we left them and returned to the piazza a nun was waiting for us. She was probably from the monastery where we were staying although I didn’t recognize her. She motioned us to follow her and led the way to an ancient church in the center of the town. She unlocked the side door and beckoned us to enter.

The interior of the church was cool and musty and we were completely alone. It didn’t seem to matter that neither Douglas nor I practiced any type of formal religion. We sat quietly absorbing the atmosphere, each lost in our own thoughts, and in about an hour the little nun came back. We tried to show our appreciation although we knew very little Italian and it was hard to speak without crying. She kept nodding her head to show that she understood and then gave Douglas a pat on the back and me a warm hug.

Now it is 14 years later and that day still haunts me, as I know it does for so many others. It also reminds me of the compassion and love that were shown to us...not only by the townspeople of Bavagna, but from all the Italians that we encountered during our month’s stay in their wonderful country. It is a memory that I will cherish forever.



Blogger Anvilcloud said...

What a beautiful and poignant post, Ginnie. We all remember where we were that day, but your memory is very warm and touching.

5:27 AM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

Lovely post. How wonderful that the nun knew exactly what you needed. A place where you could contemplate in solitude.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such a brilliant idea. My friend Brother Dunstan a Benedictine, is returning from Europe next Wednesday. He has been sending emails with photos of the different monasteries where he stayed. Of course he's working on a book and reasearching at each place. He speaks English, French, German and Italian. He was in Innsbruck several days ago then took the train to Paris via Switzerland. I made the same journey in the 1990s.

These monasteries are such a treasure. Loved your recap of your travel. I too like to stay in out-of-the way places when I travel. Assisi is at the top of my list these days, so perhaps I will research a few monasteries as your friend did. Got to wait at least one more year, however.

BTW, David picked up chip number 35 this past week. What a pretty thing it is. He showed it to the surgeon yesterday.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Grace-WorkinProgress said...

What a memory for you. I had just started my first class for my design degree it seems like a million years ago now. Our capacity to forget is what helps us to survive. For the people that were affected directly it will change there lives forever.

7:42 AM  
Blogger possum said...

Yes, we all remember a number of times and places... where we were when......
I was in my classroom. TV was on, getting ready to time a power-point, but before I made it to the computer, there was a news break. I glanced up. I could not believe my eyes... and then I watched the 2nd plane. I knew who was going to be blamed; sadly I was right. I also knew they did not do it.
The door opened. A sub brought in a class of kids. I flipped the TV off. She asked me what was wrong. I told her Bush just got his war started.
I have no idea what I taught... I had enough years under my belt that I just kicked in on auto-pilot and got thru the day. The kids knew something was up. They were all very quiet that day - listening, perhaps, for the grown-ups to whisper loud enough to know what we all looked so upset about.

It has changed how my daughter and I communicate. She is a Muslim, sort of, definitely not a radical one... she's a doctor, and has devoted her life to working in the refugee camps... Refugee camps that should not exist but for the destabilization we have caused in the Middle East. She is afraid to come to the US. How sad is that?

12:06 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

we were at home, watching GMA and I saw both planes hit. I was stunned. We all lost our innocence that day.

we just returned from seeing the new WTC. it is well done and very sobering. None of us will ever forget.

6:46 AM  

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