All you have to do is to pay attention; lessons always arrive when you are ready, and if you can read the signs, you will learn everything you need to know in order to take the next step.
~ Paul Coehlo
Thank you for all your kind wishes of care and concern. They are so appreciated. My Dad is now safely out of intensive care after a heart attack, which took us completely by surprise. My parents are preparing for an extended stay in Italy for my Dad to most likely undergo surgery before he can safely fly home. It has been a shock to say the least. So here we are based in Aosta till we know more and my Dad recovers. We can only thank our lucky stars this didn’t happen in the air, en route, or in the Swiss mountains where we were hiking. By chance we made it to the most charming town of Aosta and happen to be in one of the best cardiology hospitals in the country. The warmth exuded by the hospital staff has been wonderful to experience at such a vulnerable moment. Italians rate highly in our estimation right now! We have got to know this town well – the route to the hospital from our Pellegrino accommodation, where they have looked after us, walks through the old town with all its history and little restaurants. We’ve kissed the old fort wall for luck, we’ve prayed in the old church. We’ve revisited the restaurant to thank the chef that came to assist my Dad into a taxi that night, and my Mom has sweetened the nurses’ day with thank you cakes. We call them my Dad’s Italian angels as he can’t believe how kindly they fuss over and care for him. We knew he was recovering when he started asking for the latest USA Open tennis results! Such is the craziness of life. My Dad keeps insisting Sylvie and I keep walking so we found a way of doing it the last two days by walking the full legs of our route and then bussing back to Aosta to see him and have dinner with my Mom. It’s an emotional, topsy turvy time, but we have so much to be thankful for, so many moments. An Italian nonna stroking my Dad’s feet and sharing her husband’s health story, Sylvie’s tireless help and enthusiasm, my Mom’s super-charged determination. My Dad’s signature positivity. Our frailty and our strength.
And so we stepped back on the Via Francigena, with my Dad’s blessing and a new little Aosta heart souvenir dangling from my backpack. Aosta to Chatillon. Chatillon to Verres. Up and down hills, past medieval castles, villages, amongst wild thyme and rosemary. Back to Aosta each time. Stepping away and stepping towards. Losing and finding reality. Love biting. The next steps are uncertain but those steps we must take, in one direction or another.