It has been one week I wish I had never had to go through and one which has forever changed me. Of course, I had no idea how I would react when last Monday, I had received the news that my biological father had died. I was not prepared, and I suppose no one is ever prepared for such an event. He did not have any outward conditions such as cancer or diabetes which would be reasons for his death. So, really no time to see a deterioration, which I guess is a blessing that it happened, and it was quick. I know many people who have had to prepare for such an event and see their loved ones slowly die. It is a mixed blessing for me that I did not have to witness such a thing and being so far away, across the country and not being there perhaps made it easier, but I have learned that it is never easy.
I was trying to recall any other time in my life, losing a loved one, and I can only recall when my maternal grandparents died, about a year apart. I only heard when my maternal grandfather died and was not able to attend the funeral and I do remember seeing my maternal grandmother, perhaps a few weeks before her death and she did have a form of skin cancer, I believe. Again, I was unable to be at the funeral. They, during my formative years, and perhaps troubled teenage years, about which I spoke last week, were really my parents, so it was, for me, tragic, and I made a pledge to them, that whenever, I was in New York City, I would visit them and I have never missed a chance, including two years ago, when Rosa was with me and last November, when I had business in the city.
My blog which I started writing during the pandemic was initially meant to be a way to say, hey, I am still here and will be when we are able to travel again and that was back in 2020. It was started to let people know that we can overcome all the issues that we encounter in our everyday lives and come out stronger. It, on occasion, spoke to the events at the time and has over the past couple of years, been more personal, but sometimes with events that have happened, but really, it has been about reflection and trying to handle life in general.
Today, however, and until yesterday, this would not necessarily been the subject, but now, it is, a more personal reflection. One of a man I knew and perhaps did not know, but certainly had an influence on me. I am speaking of my biological father, who was not the one that help raise me and that is for a different discussion, but one, whose influence was more far reaching than that. I am opening myself up here, because I found out he died yesterday, of natural causes. His name is Kenneth Gartner and when I was growing up, he was not there. In fact, I did not know he existed until my pre-teens and teenage years, or so I thought. He was not spoken about, but again, the reasons are for a different time, but he was and when I needed to find out about the other half, a wall was put up and as teenagers go, I was not anything special and dealt with a lot of anger, given the situation at the time.
The fact of the matter is that he and my mother divorced when I was two years of age and if one has recollections, I remember things from about 3 years of age, and this was solidified, by my seeing reel to reel film, which had been given to me by Kenn when we met as adults, but that is for later. I also knew things were different because I attended her wedding to the other guy at age six and knew something was different and something was not right. It had to that point, been 3 years, since I had seen him, or that is the distant recollection of a then 6-year-old. After all this, the “family” moved to Minnesota, from New York in an old VW Bug and I never saw Kenn again, but something was always nagging at me, and as I grew up, I needed to know who the other half was, as I certainly did not act or look like the guy she married. In fact, we did not get along and that is an understatement and then my two brothers came along, and that did not make it easier.
I needed to know who this person was and why he was not there and why they split apart. An answer I would not ever know, but I needed to know him and throughout my teenage years, as things in Minnesota were not good at all, I tried to find him. I had an aunt, thank you Harriet, in New York City who sent me newspaper clippings, so I knew he existed, and I needed to know and would leave the house to go to a payphone, no cell phones then 😊, call directory assistance and even asked them to make the phone call. These were the old days, and they would. The first few times, the call went through, but when the answering machine picked up, I was too afraid to say anything. What would happen or what would I say. On one occasion, however, I got the nerve up and left a message. Of course, how could he respond. It was a payphone, and I did not leave a number. I was not going to leave the home number and things at home were not good anyway.
And, if you think I am staying still over the next few months, you are very much mistaken. I am called the Wandering Puffin for a reason and while my goal is to settle down in Rome in the next 6 to 8 months with Rosa, there are many different plans on the horizon. In fact, I leave for London in less than two weeks for business and then a side trip to Albania, country number 80, finally, after all the trials and tribulations and the lost year of travel which should have been attained in that year, but of course, did not. And then, I need to get back to Italy for a couple of days to help clean the apartment there, before once again, having to leave Europe, but fear not, I will return. Note that Rosa will be joining me in Albania and then we will both fly to Rome, so we will have several days together. Even a month apart is too long.
And, since I am the Wandering Puffin, but can’t go back to Europe until next year and next year is not that far away, I will be heading to Africa for the first time in about 7 or 8 years. Where, you ask? Well, I will tell you. Not Kenya, not Tanzania, not Morocco, these are places I have been, but Botswana, a place of which I know little, but to expect to learn a great deal as I have been privileged to be hosted for a travel trade conference and educational trip. Of course, this will be whirlwind, about 10 days in total with travel and only 8 days after a return from Europe for the last time this year. I am finally getting over jetlag and exhaustion from my recent return to the states and the drive to the east coast, but never fear, I will be able to handle this next adventure, as well and excited to share with everyone what I learn and how, perhaps, this could be your next destination.
My last week in Italy, before returning stateside was somewhat routine after two weeks, essentially on the road, first to the UK and then for a conference in Tuscany and my time with Rosa, where we had a wonderful weekend together. I worked on future trips and prepared for clients just arriving and to be arriving in Italy. While it used to be that June, July and August were considered high season travel, that window is now considered April to October, depending on the country, so in Italy, while the travel season is winding down, I still had several sets of clients who will experience country including Rosa guiding them in Rome, while there. For me, it was really a matter of deciding what to bring back, as I would be returning the Europe in about 3 weeks’ time. So, I packed my medium bag and my mobile office, ie. backpack and flew across the pond, not to Boston, but to Minneapolis. Why, because my vehicle was there, and I was cleaning up the last of my worldly possessions stored in the state.
My business is Arezzo was just that, with conferences and meetings, and there was some fun as well. We were also treated to nice wines and performances in the main piazza and had a chance to see this wonderful city. The hotel, for the record, was nothing special, but it served it purpose. The focus was on business and meeting with new potential business partners and re-connecting with others. In the end, it was a good conference and then we were off to various post conference experiences. I chose to go to Lucca as did about 9 others, albeit 12 were to go. We had a good group from many places, including one other from America, from Argentina, Lebanon, Lativia, Hungary, India, Spain, and Czech Republic, but both were originally from Italy. And, and, and there was another Italian, but not Rosa. It was a good group, and we enjoyed some guided experiences in Lucca, saw the Puccini Museum, went to winery, and made and ate pasta. We also went to the little town of Monte Carlo very near to Lucca. Even though I had been to Lucca last year, this was a different experience.
Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin