Skyping Sergio June 5, 2014Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
Fairly recently, I broke down and bundled my phone service with my Internet and cable TV. In doing so, I learned that there was a problem in at least one—maybe two—of the physical phone lines that come into my house. I could pay to have them fixed, or I could just plug directly into the modem. I decided to go the modem route for awhile. See how that goes.
But by abandoning the physical lines, I abandoned my old answering/fax machine. It cannot function under the new system. Still, I haven’t unplugged it. This has everything to do with my emotional attachments to certain older gentlemen.
There are ten messages on that machine that I have never erased. I am afraid to lose the sound of those voices. (Frankly, I thought it was more than ten messages. Apparently I let a few of them go.)
Two are men I know through my work as an editor. One I’ve known for nearly 20 years. He’s been threatening to die since the day I met him and now, at 88, he’s fighting a real illness. (A message that still resides on my machine includes the phrase I’ll try to get you anon.) The other is a man whose father was a songwriter whose work I admire. I’ve found that over the years, as we discover tastes and opinions we have in common, I’ve become rather fond of this person. I was able to show him off to a BFF in New York some weeks back, and her to him.
But the voice I can’t bear the thought of erasing belongs to Sergio. Seven of those ten messages are his.
Back in the late nineties/early aughts, Tim would go to Verona twice a year to check color separation for the catalog. I got to go with him four times. We would fly into Milan, and Pier, one of the partners of the business, would pick us up. We’d go out for lunch, then he’d deliver us to Verona, where Sergio, the other partner, would host us.
Tim would work with Sergio and his staff all day while I wandered the streets of Verona. Many times we would be dinner guests in his home. Sergio would translate conversation between us and his wife, Anna.
I met two of his three daughters: Nadia, who was married and had twin girls, and Laura. I never met Barbara, the middle daughter, but Tim did.
After technological advances and the resulting economics brought our Italy trips to a halt, both Sergio and Pier made a point to call us every Christmas. When we traveled for the holidays, I would fret about missing those calls—Sergio’s especially.
And that is what those messages are: missed Christmas calls.
Tim and [Indigo]: Sergio speaking. I would like to say you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I want to keep in touch with you. I wish you all the best. . . . Ciao ciao.
Tim and [Indigo]: I would like to say you hello. I will try again.
Often we would try to call back. Usually we would manage to talk once a year.
But then one year, Sergio didn’t call.
Through Facebook, Tim became friends with Sergio’s daughter Laura. Through Laura, we found out that Barbara had died of breast cancer. She left two young sons.
Sergio’s heart was broken.
No one should have to go through that.
I believe we managed to talk with him once since then.
Recently, though, Laura sent word that Sergio wanted to set up a Skype session. It took awhile for us to get our schedules to coordinate. Plus, we’d never used Skype, and up until a couple of hours before the call, we were still fiddling with it to make sure it would work.
And then, it did.
For the first time in years, there was Sergio’s face, alongside that of Laura, his technical guru and fluent English speaker.
It was wonderful and emotional and there was tearing up. Sergio and Tim really love each other, and Sergio talked about that last day when he dropped us off at the train station, and how emotional he got (we did too) because we might never see each other again. And we haven’t—until the Skype call. (May we somehow see each other in person again!) He says we got on that train in 2002. How can that be?
He and Anna are very involved in taking care of their grandsons after school, etc. It is clear how much he misses Barbara and how much he loves her boys.
Pier has also died. The last we talked to him, several years ago, he was quite ill. Tim said he had heard about Pier, but I’m not sure I did. Did I not hear? Did I choose not to remember?
I tried to tell Sergio about his voice on my answering machine, but I think it got lost in translation.
Where does love come from? Why does a natural joy spring forth between certain people (but not others)?
Why is life so busy? Why is travel so expensive? Why is it hard to spend time with so many of the people we love?
At least this Christmas, we can Skype with Sergio again.
Still, I need to figure out how to save those voice messages on my old answering machine. And maybe get back to Italy.