A Momentous May 21st

(click on pictures to enlarge)

1464102630943May 21st has always been a special day for me as it is Loris’ birthday. He would have been 68 this year.

River Enza from Vetto

River Enza from Vetto

The only request he had made regarding his funeral arrangements was that the majority of his ashes be brought back to Italy and thrown in the River Enza at Vetto close to where he was born and grew up in the province of Emilia Romagna. I thought May 21st would be a fitting day to do this. I didn’t know when I suggested this date that being the day of the full moon in May, it was also Buddha Day this year. This day commemorates the birth, day of enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. Propitious as a day of remembrance indeed.

 Loris’ brother Roberto, had already arranged for the family to get together on this day, way before I fell and broke the bone in my foot. I was determined not to cancel the arrangement since family members were coming from various places. So on Saturday morning, we set out for the family home in San Polo, a 5h drive with my wheelchair strapped on the roof of the car! We got there in time for a quick lunch at the house and then rushed off to meet the extended family in the Piazza.

Bridge at Vetto

Bridge at Vetto

We all set off for Vetto which is quite high up in the mountains and where a tall bridge crosses the river. Loris used to do competitive whitewater kayaking in his youth and the races would either start or end at this bridge. As you can see, it is very high above the river so at first, because of me being in a cast, an aunt who had just had a knee operation, and a few people who couldn’t make the climb down to the river, the consensus was that we should throw the ashes over the side of the bridge. However, although it was a gorgeous, sunny day, there was a breeze blowing and it quickly became apparent that this was not a good idea.

Roberto decided that he would go down to the river, and we could watch from the top. His son Nicola is very fit and strong and he proposed carrying me down as well. 1464102090842I was worried that this would be a Herculean task for him but he hoisted me up into his arms and assured me that I was not heavy which may be true in general but I’m not so light that it didn’t require much effort. His little daughter was actually wearing a T-shirt saying ‘Too much to ask’ and indeed it was a lot to ask.

 We set off down the bank and made our way to the river. Everyone else, except for those who really couldn’t, followed suit. I’m sure Loris was laughing his head off, wherever he is, to see this procession winding its way down to the river in his honour. There are laws called Mortuary Police Regulations regarding scattering of ashes in Italy which vary from province to province. I believe scattering them in water is permitted though I could be wrong. The idea that we might be doing something illegal would have appealed to Loris even more!

1464102324693When we got to the bottom (Nicola wasn’t even short of breath, what a trooper!), Roberto threw in the ashes, the others threw in roses and we stood on the bank and watched the river flow and the roses float by. It was a moving, spiritual and memorable moment and I have to say that Loris was laid to rest in one of the most beautiful final resting places you could imagine. It makes me happy to think that he’s back home in the countryside that he loved.

1464268663296Afterwards, we proceeded to his other brother Athos’ house overlooking San Polo and raised a toast (brindisi) to Loris. In the evening, we all had dinner together with many more brindisi. It couldn’t have been more fitting that there was a full moon which Loris always loved. For me, it was  meaningful final farewell with all his family there and also my sister Florinda.


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2 Responses to A Momentous May 21st

  1. Irena Jares says:

    Joyce, what a sad, joyful, funny and totally authentic experience ! I’m so glad you were able to scatter Loris’ ashes in this river on this beautiful piece of the planet which meant so much to him. What a great experience to be carried by this gentle giant of a nephew……..somehow all obstacles become manageable in the end, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I really hope your foot continues to heal, both you and Peter will share a limp for a little while. Looking forward to seeing you when you are back in T.O.
    Love and hugs from Irena

  2. Niamh Kelly says:

    What a beautiful end of life ‘ceremony’, so natural and filled with humanity.

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