A sad topic but a frequent one these days in Codiponte…
to mark a death, the campanile of Codiponte’s pieve… or, parochial church… tolls the sad announcement of the deceased. One death knell is for women. Another for men. Both are instantly recognizable. You know. The village and hills of olive & chestnut groves are arrested by the campanile’s solemn and measured clangs to one last whispered ring. A melancholic descent. Rattles your spirit and mood like nothing else can.
Last year, we suffered the sudden loss of Our Neighbor Below, Gigliana. One day she was throwing bread out her window to The Waiting & Enthusiatic Dogs and the next we were walking behind her funeral wagon on the way to the cemetery. This fine and delightfully ornery woman was a friend, a protectress, our guide to Codiponte commanded from her constant perch in the warmth or cool of her kitchen. No more.
More recently, Codiponte’s pixie of bestowing a warm smile, a good word and sunny optimism to everyone she met in her daily peregrinations to put flowers on her husband’s grave, buy milk and chat-up at the Scuzzy Bar, Our Emma, passed away unexpectedly at the beginning of April. I left for the US before her funeral. No chance to give her my good-bye. And… no more meeting Emma on the Medieval bridge with the Dogs eagerly sniffing her grocery sack. No more coming upon Emma as her 94+ year old legs uncertainly keep her aloft to put a bouquet of flowers at the Madonnina above il Poggiolo. No more seeing Emma sitting at an outside bar table, probably cluttered with ashtrays full of cigarette butts and disgusting bar trash, but no matter, as I tootle by in the FIAT, top down. No more. No more.
I came back from the US and was told over a caffe’ by Our Neighbor and inducted Dog-sitter of another Codiponte personality, Varaldo, in hospital seriously ill. An un-operable embolism. Doctors attempted to dissolve the menace. The situation turned encouraging so, he was sent home. A day later, he was incoherent and incapacitated. Codiponte’s marvelous volunteer ambulance service transported Varaldo back to the big hospital in Massa. And there, he passed away. An abrupt shock to the villager’s existential systems. Quickly, no more of Varaldo… his constant comings & goings with tractor and machinery. No more Varaldo spotting me out with The Dogs… yes, a perennial occurrence with one and all here… coming over to kid me with some cazzo-boo-boo of a joke delivered with his operatic voice booming. No more Varaldo bestowing gifts of gloves or ingenius tools for conquering weeds. No more. No more. No more.
All deaths are keenly felt. These of Codiponte keener still. Worse than the tremors of an earthquake. Codiponte is a personality. It needs folk to make it complete. And, Italians like numbers too. More the merrier. The numbers are dwindling here. The loss of one deadens the whole. Desperately sad to live these losses. Sadder still to feel to be missing parts… parts of myself. Those I happen to like… a ready smile when seeing a friend, like Emma… the booming voice to tell a ridiculous story, like Varaldo… and the love of wasting a hot afternoon chatting away over caffe’, like Gigliana. No more. No more. No more. No more.
Hard to take. Especially so, when optimism had seemed to have been a Winner. But then, that must be Life. Gads.