More than a month since my last entry. Hmmm. Outside the weather is frightful, the fire is so delightful. What a month it has been. I got the call in late November that every person living in a foreign country dreads. I flew back to the states, and bid my terminally ill father farewell. As sad and as hard as this was, to be able to be with him, my mother and my sister in his last moments was a blessing. I am glad I made it in time.
My father and mother had booked tickets in mid 2004 to come over and see our project. They were excited about the prospect of our Bed and Breakfast. Shortly thereafter, my father's health started to fail and they had to cancel their plans to come. I like to think that he can see us now, smiling as he watches us cut and stack wood, shovel gravel onto the road, greeting our guests last week from Shanghai.
The days that followed my return were a blur. While I was in the States, an early storm brought untold amounts of snow to our hill in Piemonte. Michael dug out as best he could, but he was landlocked for several days, going through much more firewood than he had planned on. When I arrived back, I realized how much needed to get done before the arrival of our impending guests the week before Christmas. My grief felt like a ten ton weight as I scrambled to clean and decorate the outside of the house and prepare things. But the distraction kept me going, and going, and going. Michael furiously cut wood, worrying that another cold snap would wipe out our supply of split logs.
Amidst tears and exhaustion, everything got done. Our guests arrived. It was so nice to have them. Guests put everything into perspective for me. Seeing how much they enjoyed Italy, seeing how comfortable they seemed to feel in our home made me feel I could continue moving forward. We laughed with them over wine and cheese, helped them find the huge outlet mall about an hour from here, brought them to our favorite wine guy.
We bid them good-bye on the same day my mother-in-law arrived from Germany to celebrate Christmas with us. My own mother is with my sister and her family today, celebrating quietly, as we are here. So many reasons to feel blessed. So much to do in the new year. As we sit today, in front of the delightful fire, drinking tea and eating my mother's-in-law homemade Stollen, I feel calm for the first time in weeks, and ready to face the new year.
I wish us all joy. Peace. Thankful hearts for the goodness in our lives. Optimism for the future. A blessed 2006.