Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bittersweet Memories

Eight years ago, I spent several weeks in Pantelleria. I had once been invited to the island in 1971 but never made the trip. In 2001 I finally made it. I rented a dammuso, one of the thick stone houses that characterize the island. I had a motor scooter and a supply of wine from a friend who had a winery there. My wife had died a few months before and I was verklempt from the battle she waged for three years and the ultimate loss. She had the real MS, multiple sclerosis. I cannot tell you how much I despise that disease. More than anything.

I had wine to drink and a little kitchen to cook in. I spent the days tooling around the island looking at the vineyards and other natural sights. In all, it was as good a way of mourning Liz’s loss as I could muster. There was a funeral on the island when I was there; a young person had lost their life in the sea. We were all sad that day.

The island had great seafood and ice cream. I started jogging there. I still eat seafood and ice cream. And I still jog. And of course, the Passito di Pantelleria is a very special wine to me, because of the bittersweet memory of the time I spent on the island.

I heard this song the other day on the Prairie Home Companion, by the Australian alt-country duo Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson. The song is an old American country one, called “When we're gone, long gone.”

Trouble, we have known trouble
In our struggle just to get by
Many times the burden's been heavy
Still we carried on side by side

And when we're gone long gone
The only thing that will have mattered
Is the love that we shared
And the way that we cared
When we're gone, long gone

And when we're walking together in glory
Hand in hand through eternity
It's the love that will be remembered
Not wealth, not poverty

And when we're gone long gone
The only thing that will have mattered
Is the love that we shared
And the way that we cared
When we're gone, long gone


Unknown said...

Bittersweet, indeed.

I was listening to APHC as well. Crazy how ten thousand of us listen and have ten thousand different experiences--just like all good art and, indeed, life itself.

How many people have stayed in that same dammuso, yet none with the same experience as you.

I am sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

That really touched me. Thanks.


Marco Zibibbo said...

Very soulful, amico. There should be more words like bittersweet in le lingua Anglese.

Dave said...

Here's a link to the song:


Mattie John Bamman said...

I think this post, like this song, hit straight to the heart. Bravo.

jgmccue said...

You move me, man, you move me.

Marco Moscato said...

I have a bit of an '01 Passito de Pantelleria left. I'll toast to you tonight, amico.

Brooklynguy said...

Thanks for sharing what must be a deeply personal set of memories and thoughts. I enjoyed reading them.

Tracie P. said...

un abbraccio anche da me, ace! we'll all listen to that song together live on monday :)

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