Stephanie ForrestComment

An Emotional Return, Sicily 2017

Stephanie ForrestComment
An Emotional Return, Sicily 2017

Well folks, it's been about ten days since we returned from what was the most magical two weeks of my life. I have been a bit of a slacker with regard to my blog, apologies! I think in large part I have been trying to figure out the right words to perfectly summarize our long awaited family trip back home to Sicily. Having thought it through, I don't think this will be a one and done post. To do the trip justice, I have a feeling this may spill over into a series of posts. 

Here goes... Brant and I arrived at JFK airport with my entire family for departure. We were on our way to Paris... they were headed straight to Palermo. I will get into our perfect Parisian getaway in another post, but for now, I'm going to skip ahead. We arrived in Palermo on September 7th on a connecting flight from Rome. I was awake for most of the 50 minutes. I was too excited to close my eyes. I was overcome with so much emotion as our plane started to descend. I peeked through the window and recognized the silhouette of the island through the clouds. It was more beautiful, more majestic than I remembered. As the plane got closer I followed each curve and peak of the mountains. Tears started to fall out of my eyes as I thought of the last time I visited. 

I was overwhelmed thinking of my family. I cried tears of joy thinking about our reunion. But more importantly, I thought of my dad. Dear old Dad, who brought me to this island as a little girl, who made me so proud of my roots and our family history. I thought of him as I arrived and wondered what he felt just days before. How emotional it must have been for him to come back home. It was at that point that I began sobbing, unsure of how to handle everything I was feeling. I was finally home, we all were, and it felt so good to be back.

When we arrived it was like everything was frozen in time-- it was amazing how many people we ran into who remembered my Dad. I was taken aback by the the man who owned the pane e panelle stand who recognized my father and brought up stories of my Nonno. There were also countless neighbors and friends who came pouring out of their homes on Via Mario Benzo to greet him with hugs and smiles. I was driven to the point of tears on almost a daily basis. It was a beautiful gift to have watched his homecoming. 

This trip taught me so much about my father. I learned that he is very much where he comes from. What you see is what you get. Like Sicily, there is no fancy artifice, no sugar coating necessary. Sicily, like my father, is fiercely independent and spirited, she has and will endure because it is a place that remains timeless. And so it is with its people--Sicilian first then {maybe} Italian, they too are independent.

Like each of us, there is no escaping the past. Sicily has been conquered, dominated, exploited, maligned, and stereotyped. It has been hewn and honed over for centuries. However, despite all of this, she remains proud, unique, uncompromising, indomitable, unapologetic and unforgettable. And as I thought more and more about my Dad and his story I started to see the similarities. I have been so fortunate to have experienced this beautiful place with him over the course of my lifetime. But this trip has been the most memorable. I came to understand more about him than I ever thought possible. And that deep heartfelt understanding became richer on this trip when I stepped back and remembered how a young man left everything he knew to venture a half a world away with very little besides hope, a willingness to work, and a character and strength borne of generations. I was and remain deeply touched and grateful for his courage and strength.

On a personal level, the highlights of my journey were being reunited with family and friends and meeting people who continuously honor their proud culture. And truly, I was amazed and grateful that after so many years and so many visits over my lifetime, Sicily still manages to beguile and surprise me as much as ever. 

Stay tuned...more to come.


Stephanie, The Little Lady