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In Memoriam

June 28, 2019

I freely admit that I have arrived at the age when many of my friends die each year. The whole ten little Indians thing really gets a bit depressing when you become a genuine geezer.

Here in Italy, we have been fortunate to have so many truly wonderful friends of all ages. However, the majority of them have been older people who tend to share our world vision and have had years of experience to back those visions up. They also have been more forgiving of our slower pace, our faltering language skills and tendency to call it a night when the sun is still shining.

Two of our very best friends here passed away during the last couple of years. They were Freddy Ianes and his wife Erika Ianes. We met both years ago in a local supermarket because they noticed that we spoke English, Italian and German. As they had spent several years in Canada, they were eager to get to know us. We felt the same and a long friendship was begun. Freddy was born Italian speaking while Erika was born German speaking. They were delightful, intelligent and engaging people – The type that we really get on with.

We spent many years with Freddy and Erika. They were frequent guests at our house as we were frequent guests at theirs. We shared a common trait of being foodies and so we were also often together in some out of the way Gasthaus or Trattoria. Nothing is quite as sweet as sharing a glass of really good wine with really good friends. We were fortunate to have done this so many, many times. Freddy and Erika were certainly jewels in out lives here in Italy.

I remember being invited for lunch at their house. Freddy asked beforhand, “Can you bring me an American flag?” I assured him that I could (we always have stock on hand) and when we arrived, he insisted on climbing up on his roof and mounting the flag at its highest point. “Scherzi!” I shouted as I believe nobody should go up on a roof, especially someone in the mid 80’s. The deed was done and we had a good laugh over yet another bottle of wine together.

Erika was one of the most intelligent, engaging people I have ever met. She loved language, art and history. It was just so wonderful to talk to someone who had the same interests and who could carry on such a vivid conversation, whether it was in English, Italian or German. Above all, Erika really thoroughly enjoyed a good meal. Look at her enthusiasm as she looked at a plate of one of her favorites.

Sadly, Freddy passed away while we were in Italy on July 30, 2017. Erika delivered the news by phone from their home in Meran. It was a sad day indeed. I recalled the many times when Freddy would give me a quizzical look after some political statement I had made and simply said with a smile in English, “I don’t believe you!” A hundred stories that he told me flashed before my mind: Fishing by hand in the Novella stream, meeting Erika when he was in the army and so many more. Freddy was a genuine man for all seasons.

Last year, we saw Erika only a couple of times when we returned to Italy. Without Freddy, our meetings at some distant eatery in the mountains had become less frequent. We visited her a couple of times in the Meran hospital where she was being intermittently treated for a rare blood disorder. She had to return regularly for plasma infusions. Her spirits were undaunted though and she was always up for a conversation and a good meal. Right before our return to the United States, we took Erika out to lunch at a Chinese restaurant in the town of Nieder Lana. She loved Chinese food and anything that was a bit different. We spent a couple of hours with her and she was in excellent spirits. After lunch, we drove her home and said goodbye. We told her that we would phone when we got back to the United States. That was the last time we saw her.

Only two weeks later, I received an email from her son as we were settling-in to our home in America again. Before I even read it, I had a foreboding idea of its contents. Yes, Erika had died, literally in her son’s arms after a wonderful trip together to Venice. September 17, 2018 would be another sad day to remember.

There is grief and then there is that unusually threatening feeling that a piece of you has truly died. In the case of Freddy and Erika, I must say that piece will be forever missing and is incapable of being replaced. To two good friends who made the lives of me and my wife much, much richer, I say: “Grazie dal cuore! Amici buoni sono per sempre!”

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From → America, Family, Italy, Travel

17 Comments
  1. Lesley permalink

    Lovely to have experienced such good friendship. They will be a big miss.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sorry to read about the loss of
    special friends.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. L.Roach permalink

    A beautiful and touching tribute to your friends Allen. We have a number of ancestors from the Ianes family of Castelfondo on our family tree.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank You! They had a lovely big house above the church in Castelfondo. We spent many an afternoon there.

      Like

  4. L.Roach permalink

    Yes, I know the village. I have a friend who is 80 yrs. old named Andreas Cologna who lives just past the church, on a road that goes down the hill. You can see the church from his house. Did you know that the green schoolhouse located directly behind the church was built with funds from the sale of my great-grandfather’s estate in Castelfondo. My grandfather and three of his siblings decided to give back to the village by donating the money for the school (which actually started off as an orphanage) after they sold their father’s holdings in the 1950’s. If you step inside the school you’ll find a plaque dedicated to my great-grandparents, Damiano and Oliva Genetti, along with their portraits. My grandfather’s name, Leone Genetti, is also on the plaque.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have been in the school. Next time I’m there I will take some photos of the pictures and plaque. We are just coming out of a terrible heat wave here with temperatures in the upper valley in the mid-90’s.

      Like

  5. Very sorry for both your losses. Mes condoléances.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Congratulations! Your blog is included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2019/07/friday-fossicking-5th-july-2019.html
    Thank you, Chris

    It’s never easy when our family chains are broken, but how wonderful to have known and loved so many.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. what a lovely memorial – so sorry – my condolences to you & yours

    Liked by 1 person

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