Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cali and the Funeral

On the last Wednesday in July my official PYP training began at the school.  Two days into this workshop we got some very sad news: Maurizio's father had suffered a stroke, and had passed away.  We made immediate plans to fly to Cali for the funeral, and I obtained permission to be absent from the first day of orientation, which was the next Monday.  We arrived on Friday evening, and Maurizio's mother had prepared a lovely meal for us.  Despite the sad circumstances, she was very happy to see her baby boy and her adopted hija.  Over the course of the weekend she fed us, fawned over us, showed us Maurizio's baby clothes and photos of him as a little boy, and generally spoiled us.  I also spent some time at Maurizio's father's house, getting to know the other members of the family.

Mau has two half-siblings, Juan Carlos, who lives in Chile, and Anna, who lives in Rome, as well as one step-brother, Fernando, who actually lives near Bogotá.  It was lovely to see them all together, and they were very kind to me.  They told stories and jokes, and we drank wine and ate homemade pizza.  Maurizio's father, Giovanni Luigi Battista Tinnirello Menteone, grew up in Torino, but according to a story told by Fernando, he was adopted from Sicily.  I had met him and his wife, Nelly, briefly on my first visit to Cali in December 2012, when he told Maurizio that he "had better hang on to" me.  Maurizio did not often talk about his relationship with his father, but I knew this weekend would be difficult for him.  I wanted to be supportive, but I think Cali has some kind of strange effect on me, because both times I have been there I have been overcome by strange, uncontrollable bouts of crying, which I find intensely embarrassing.  Last time I was discovered by Maurizio's mother and aunt, who blamed him and tried to get me to tell them what he had done to me (he hadn't done anything; I was just overtired).  This time I lost it in front of everybody, and it was one of the most awful social faux pas I have ever committed.

On the way to the post-funeral luncheon Maurizio was joking with his sister and stepmother about me drinking wine the night before, and he suggested that I am, in general, a drunkie--which is completely untrue, but should not have been upsetting enough to send me to tears.  However, as I asked him not to joke that way with people who do not really know me, and he gave me an apologetic look, I was somehow filled with unidentifiable emotion, and the lump formed in my throat and the tears fell from my eyes.  I was horrified, because here I was with three people who had just lost a loved one, and I appeared to be crying over something very minor, but that very idea made me so upset that I cried even harder.  I tried to hide it, but I was in the back seat next to the two women, and they could not help noticing.  Being noticed when one is crying is, of course, a certain recipe for more crying, and I did my best to beg them just to leave me alone until it subsided.  We arrived at the restaurant, where I was unwilling to get out of the car because my face and eyes were red and I didn't want the entire family to know what had happened, but we were in a taxi, and I had no choice.  I greeted Fernando with my eyes downcast, and was trying to hide behind Maurizio as much as I could as we stood in front of everyone, when thankfully Anna directed me to the ladies' room, where I tried to calm myself down.  I have no idea what was going on, but there was just no stopping it.  I was not really upset by what had happened in the car, but now I was mortified and ashamed of appearing like a big baby in front of his family, and at a time when they were the ones suffering.  I let out a few sobs to try to clear my throat and washed my face repeatedly, but I knew there was no hiding the traces on my face.  As I walked out of the bathroom Nelly and Maurizio were waiting to take me to the table, but just seeing them there set me off again.  It was really awful.  Finally they dragged me over with promises that no one would say anything, and I tried not to let that knowledge make me cry even more.  Juan Carlos' wife was next to me, and the only thing she said was that my eyes were a beautiful colour--which made me laugh, because it is true that the redness of crying makes the blue-green of my eyes stand out, and it was sweet of her to try to cheer me up.  Finally I was calm enough to eat and converse a little, though the mortification remained and is still with me even now.  But the family was gracious, never saying a word about it, and I am grateful to them for it.

Near the top of the Trés Cruces

After a very full and very hot weekend in Cali (during which we climbed to the Tres Cruces, or three crosses atop a mountain, twice) we returned to chilly Bogotá on Monday and got ready for a busy week ahead.

That week entailed my orientation at Knightsbridge, and my first glimpse of my classroom.  We are now a good seven weeks into the school year, and I have lots to say about my new teaching experiences, but I they will have to wait for another post.

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