Friday, 1 June 2018

Vale The Pigeon

Vale Sergio ( the pigeon) Brunelli

I seem to be losing my old-man friends in the village this year. First Franco and now adorable Sergio.
Sergio lived in San Miniato his entire life, even surviving the war and the horrific atrocities that happened all around him. He owned a butcher’s shop ( macelleria) just up the road from me in which he sold chicken – probably where he got his village nickname ‘the pigeon’ from! I don’t think Sergio held the soybean in much esteem. In fact, he owned this shop for so many years, even the newspapers announcing his untimely passing referred to him as an historic trader. 

The shop closed a few years ago but Sergio still sat in his shop every day to greet passersby with a hearty Buongiorno. If you were lucky enough to pass him twice in the one morning you would get a wonderful rrrre-Buongiorno resplendent with a well-rolled ‘r’. Sometimes he was joined in the afternoon by his adorable wife, Rina, and together they would smile at the world as it passed them by.
Now Sergio sat in his shop whatever the weather – through sweltering Sicilian winds, icy Alpi Apuane squalls, rain with drops the size of elephants tears. He loved his city and the rolling hills that embraced it. In fact, when rare snow came to the village earlier this year, Sergio sat up late into the night watching the wolves frolic in the powdered fields below.
I remember one morning just this past winter when the wind was blowing bitterly through the serpentine streets, and I had been greeted as always with an exuberant Buongiorno. In fact, by then, we had graduated into chitchat as well which had pleased me no end. I went to have a cappuccino and decided I would bring him back one because it was so bleak. I remember giving it to him; his face riddled with astonishment. Later I learned through his daughter ( who has recently become my friend) that on the evening of the cappuccino he had come home and told his family about the foreigner who gave him a cappuccino. “Perhaps she thinks I am a peasant, “ he speculated. His daughter and I often laughed about this over the months which followed.
Today the town buried our pigeon. A funeral was held in San Domenico; a beautiful, melancholic service awash with golden afternoon sun, and organ music which soared all the way to its frescoed vaults. When I went to hug his daughter at the end of the ceremony she sobbed ‘O my sweet friend, no more cappuccino.’ And I took her face in my hands and said ‘ Oh no my darling,. cappuccino forever, because every time I have one now he will be resting in my heart.”
Sergio brought joy to my morning day and a welcome smile at its close. He was old school Italy for me: tiny, effervescent, every word he spoke had his whole body behind it.
I will miss him. As will all my town.

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