Incontinent on the Continent:
My mother, Her Walker and our Grand Tour of Italy
By Jane Christmas
Jane Christmas had always dreamed of a wonderful Italian holiday; the art, the architecture, and the people all held her in thrall.
She had another dream. That dream was that she and her mother could have a more loving relationship. They had only to be in the same room for conflict to begin.
Would it be possible, if they went to Italy together, six weeks of Italian sun and countryside, could that heal the rift and make them friends? That was the plan.
The obvious health problems of her mother had somewhat escaped her notice.
They didn’t get along, so how often did they meet? Her friends thought her idea was totally off the wall, but Jane really did want their animosity to be a thing of the past.
Jane studied all the angles. All right, her mother never liked her men friends, she judged them by their hair style, a superficial test which they always failed.
Still, she had been a good mom in many ways. Surely the differences, between mother and daughter, could be handled now that Jane was an adult. Mother also loved ruins and antiques both of which would be readily available on a tour of Italy.
Jane did not entirely forget about her mother’s needs. She booked accommodations with no stairs, she stipulated that it must be a short distance from lobby to hotel room, and she remembered mother was allergic to seafood.
She knew the car rental had to accommodate the ubiquitous red walker.
She forgot the vitamins, the puffer (for shortness of breath) and the snacks (mother is diabetic), and the supply large diapers.
The title Incontinent on the Continent is almost a guaranteed giggle to most readers.
The one who is not giggling is the one who arrives in St. Peter’s Square on Easter Morning to hear Mass with Pope Benedict, and then, once seated, wonders timidly where the bathrooms are.
Even Italy thought this trip was a bad idea. The skies opened upon their arrival and the rain came down in torrents. Of course they had brought summer clothes, beach wear and sandals.
Jane Christmas has a nice lighthearted style of writing, which softens the fact that the rain is washing out their Italian dream, and watching super loud TV, (Mother is also deaf) with someone who comments throughout the movie, is just not that much fun.
From Sorrento, to Viterbo, Alberobella, Martina, Franca, Locorotondo in the rain. Did I tell you that Mom didn’t like wearing her seat belt so the “ping ping” sound marked rhythm with their journey.
Sicily, Racalmute, Agrigento, Alberobello, Matera: the journey had become a quest for sunshine.
Is there any hope for the real purpose of this trip? This is a true story after all and two people so much alike are bound to find common ground eventually. A highly entertaining travel story.
Peggy Freeman is a freelance writer living in Red Deer.