“Yay! Guess who’s on her way to see you?”
“Yep! Text me once you land in Italy, have a safe flight!”

This text exchange is one I would have never in a million years thought I would be having with my now adult daughter – the one who has been in Europe the last six weeks. She is officially more well traveled than me, the one who birthed her. The things we hope for as parents. More than what we had, less hurts in the process.

As I sit here at the Grand Rapids International Airport, this opportunity to spend the next ten days with my only daughter in a country I’ve always wanted to visit is not lost on me. Many years ago, I only wanted to live long enough that she’d remember me. Profound gratitude is the only way I can underwhelmingly explain my feelings at the moment. I’m sure after a couple days in Italy (or, “It Lee” as my Italian family pronounces it), my regular non-emotional self will resurface, and the only way I will be able to explain my feelings will be “I’m stuffed.”

My Dad is 100% Italian. While I have fond family memories on both sides of the house, some of my most favorite times as a little girl (as in…through my early twenties) revolve around my Italian grandmother. Being in her 1000 square foot house – of which seemingly 500 square feet was kitchen – brought out the waving hands, warm beer, penny poker games, incessant interrupting among cousins, siblings, parents and children, and of course, food. The BEST food!

From ravioli to gnocchi to wedding soup, my Gram cooked and cooked and cooked in her tiny kitchen as a dozen family members swarmed all around the stove, sweating in multitudes that cannot be measured. I often wondered if her homemade and never replicated spaghetti sauce was the result of our collective DNA. Who knows – I’m hoping 23andme will tell me in about 6 more weeks.

I’m also hoping that the hand gestures and Italian phrases which are firmly ingrained in me won’t get me kicked out of the country upon arrival. My Gram wore her thoughts on her sweet face, vis-a-vis spewing them out of her mouth with unrivaled Italian flair and rapidity.

As my Dad always says, “Genes are a funny thing.”

As my husband always says, “Une Madone!, you’re something else!”

I think he means…Italian.


I’ll be blogging about Liv’s and my adventure on this site if you’d like to follow along. She’s been blogging for the last 6 weeks (“Genes are a funny thing”) about her time studying in Vienna if you’d like to get caught up: www.oliviacours.blogspot.com.


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