When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool

January 4, 2017 • Posted in careers/jobs for people who are blind, guest blog, memoir writing, travel, Uncategorized by

Recognizing that last year was not everyone’s favorite, the Chicago Tribune asked readers to submit stories for the paper to publish as a collection of short pieces defending poor 2016. Sharon Silverman submitted a shortened version of an essay she’d written for one of the memoir-writing classes I lead here in Chicago, and of course the Tribune was delighted to use it. You can link here to read Sharon’s short piece in the Tribune, but here, just for you Safe & Sound blog readers, is the original longer version that inspired Sharon’s submission.

It Doesn’t Get Better Than This

by Sharon Silverman

This summer I traveled with my grandson, Max, to Italy. It was one of the happiest times in my life! Just the two of us — together for sixteen days.

With only one carry-on bag and a backpack each we flew non-stop to Rome. Traveling light is my mantra, and Max succeeded by squishing his clothes into plastic zipper bags including his stuffed animal, Shleppy. Even a thirteen year old needs to have his favorite cuddly pet along for a journey.

Sharon and Max dining in Rome.

Sharon and Max dining in Rome.

There’s nothing like sharing the splendor of Rome with your grandson.

With his encouragement, I make it up the 551 steps of St Peter’s Dome. “Come on, Grandma. You can make it.” My wobbly knee, recently renovated through months of physical therapy, does not disappoint! Looking down into the basilica is an astonishing sight: tiny tourists moving through glistening marble structures and statues. Without Max’s prodding, I wouldn’t have done this.

In the Jewish Ghetto, we walk through history where 2000 Jews once lived. On October 13, 1943 they were forced into trucks transporting them to Auschwitz. We read their names and birthdates listed on golden plaques in front of the homes where they once lived. One marker identifies a three year old boy. We continue walking sadly, holding each other tight as we imagine the horror of that day.

Our travels continue to Naples. Exiting the train we try to find the hotel. It’s hot and steamy. The streets of Naples are dirty and smelly. We’re tired, hot, and hungry. We walk around for some time. Thank goodness we travel light.

At last we find it! Exhausted and relieved we collapse in our room to rest. In the next days, Pompeii, Vesuvius, and the Amalfi Coast make up for the squalor of Naples.

Our last week is an organized trip with grandparents and their grandchildren ages 11-15. We meet the group in Verona, and one night we are treated to the opera La Traviata in the large outdoor arena. I saw Aida here 51 years ago. Now I’m back with Max! Sharing this moment with him now makes me feel so joyful.

As Violetta takes the entire third act to die, Max comments, “This is so cheesy. Die already!” I chuckle with delight.

In Venice we stroll through the winding streets, ride in a gondola, and even make our own masks in a special mask making workshop. Max is happy making new friends with the children in the group, and I’m content leaving the daily planning to the trip organizers.

One of the grandparents is traveling with her grandson for the entire summer — 40 days — and Italy is only one stop. When Max hears this he says, “No offense, Grandma, but I wouldn’t want to be with you for 40 days.” We laugh, and I agree.

The last night, lying next to each other in our respective beds, Max says, “You are the best grandma. Thank you so much! I love you!”

It doesn’t get better than this!

Sheila A. Donovan On January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am

What a joy! One on one with your grandchild. Makes for a close relationship for life.

silvermansharon On January 5, 2017 at 10:15 am

Thank you, Sheila.

Dan On January 4, 2017 at 11:28 am

In my next life I want to come back as Sharon Silverman’s grandson. What a lucky young man.

silvermansharon On January 4, 2017 at 10:51 pm

You gave me a big smile with your comment. Thank you!

Susan Ohde On January 4, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Now that’s amore!

bethfinke On January 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Originally I had “That’s Amore”in the title along with the fazool line, but in the end I took That’s Amore out in hopes our readers would know where the line came from An of course, our Susie did. Thanks for leaving this comment!


Bethsclasses On January 4, 2017 at 6:09 pm

I loved this story. I am travelling to London with my grandson this summer so it makes me hopeful that it will all turn out great. Thank you.

silvermansharon On January 4, 2017 at 10:49 pm

I’m sure it will. Tell us about it when you return.

Pam Berman On January 4, 2017 at 9:20 pm

Beautifully done! Bravo! As a Jew I
€™a fascinated, as I age &my knees & back give me trouble I am intrigued. As a mother with a teenage son I am awed at the beautiful relationship between Grandmother & Grandson. I started reading this post intrigued & ended with tears in my eyes &wanting to go on this trip with my son.

Thank You.

silvermansharon On January 4, 2017 at 10:50 pm

Thank you for sharing your emotion. I’m so happy it touched you.

Benita Black On January 5, 2017 at 11:08 am

Enviable, Sharon. And Max will remember it for his entire life and share it with *his* grandchildren. Now that’s what I call immortality!

silvermansharon On January 6, 2017 at 9:01 pm

Thanks, Benita. I do believe our best legacy is what we do with and for the Ines we love.

Cheryl On January 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I always look forward to listening to your adventures (in 500 words or less). You reminded me of an energizer bunny climbing all those stairs with your grandson. Proud of your energy and your writing:)

silvermansharon On January 6, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Thanks, Cheryl. Such a pleasure to write along side you with our fellow writers. Looking forward to the next session!

Nancy On January 7, 2017 at 12:10 am

Lovely story, thank you.

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