Last week I was informed of the death of my parents’ next door neighbour. My parents have lived in their house for nearly 40 years, it was the house in which I grew up. In all that time they have had the same neighbours a Sicilian couple who had been married for 44 years. The late Antonio was a simple man not given to extravagance, he was a keen and skilled garderner who cultivated an allotment as well as his back-garden, he grew all sorts of vegetable and fruit and shared his harvet with his neighbours. He didn’t speak an awful lot of English but it was enough to make himself understood. He always had a kind word for people that he met and took a special interest in our family seeing as though he has watched us all grow up and then have children of our own. Over the last few years had been in and out of hospital and generally his health deteriorated but was always up and about and with a smile on his face. Most people in the street knew him to say hello to him and many people were shocked and saddened by his passing. He passed away at home in his wife’s arms.He is survived by his wife, a wonderful and lovely lady by the name of Alfonsa (she is always smiling!) and two grown-up children Gino and Margarete. Our family’s thoughts are with them.
It is strange, but it really does feel as though I have lost a family member and was very sad to hear of his demise, he was someone very familiar to all of us who lived and grew up in the street. My parents were particularly upset as they are currently out of the coutry at the moment as they have lost a really decent neighbour who they describe as a dear friend. I attended the Requiem Mass at their local Catholic Church and this was appreciated by the family and friends of Antonio.
It is at times like these that we come together regardless of race and religion, it is one of those times that a kind word, words of consolement and sharing of grief help to bridge divides and leave lasting impressions.