I visited my daughter in Milan a couple of months ago. If you had told me 25 years ago that I would ever write the sentence “I visited my daughter in Milan”, I would have laughed at you. At that point in my life, children weren’t on the horizon, and even if I had had a child, why would that child be in another country?
But we did have a daughter (actually two, if I remember correctly), and one of them studied abroad in Milan. I never knew anyone who studied abroad when I was in college. It wasn’t popular then. When I was 21, I was more interested in going to rock concerts and trying not to get into too much trouble.
I met some of my daughters’ friends while I was visiting her in Milan. Her friends are really intelligent, and really brave souls. They are scientists, business people and musicians. They have immersed themselves in Italian culture and Italian society. Some of them lived with host families, and others lived in off-campus housing. They know as much about living in Milan as some of the native Milanese. They have memorized the metro and tram systems, and they know where to find the best gelato, espresso and pizza.
Have you ever heard older people say “what’s wrong with young people nowadays?” I can tell you what’s right about young people nowadays. They are 10 years ahead of where I was at the same age.
If you have children, you want the best for them. You want them to be healthy, happy, and independent. You want them to grow up to be independent productive adults.
Sometimes when I see it happen, though, it seems bittersweet. There is this feeling of “that happened really quickly-where did the time go?”
I met my daughter in Milan, and I could tell right away that she had been changed by the experience. She looked more grown up, more mature, more confident.
As we left the hotel the first day, she turned to me, and she said “follow me”. And then she did something really remarkable. She spoke only Italian in public for the next three days. She led us through Milan and Venice, through trains, cathedrals, museums and public spaces, and spoke to the local people in Italian.
How did that happen? When did my baby grow up?
Several times she ordered tickets and meals for me. Each time, she used the expression “per lui”. I assumed that “per” in Italian was like “pere” in French, which means “father”. But I couldn’t figure out why she was calling me “Father Louie”. She wasn’t. “Per lui” in Italian means “for him”. She was ordering things for me, and said “for him, he will have…..”.
I usually end my blog with my given name. This time I think I will sign off as…..