A Long Trip Home and the Memory of My Uncle

uncle how bdayIt was this past Friday night around 11 p.m. when I sat down to book a very early morning flight home to the U.S. My uncle passed away suddenly from a massive stroke and I needed to get home to be with my family as soon as possible.

I didn’t have time to call the airline ahead of time about my allergies. I decided that I would speak to them when I arrived at the gate. When I asked at the gate, I was told that they did not have bags of nuts, and that I

My Uncle & I always shared a birthday cake

(only one day apart)

could also inform the flight attendants about my allergies when I got on board. My first flight was only one hour to Rome, where I was supposed to have a two hour layover before heading home. There were no problems on the first flight. It was a 7 a.m. flight. I definitely think that taking early morning flights cuts down on the chances of being served allergic foods.

Once I arrived in Rome, I didn’t see the gate for my second flight. I looked at my ticket. It said my flight wasn’t taking off until 4:30 p.m. I went and waited in a long line at Alitalia. They said that there were mechanical errors and that there were no flights to get home until the one that left at 4:30 p.m. The woman at Alitalia told me that I could go show them my ticket to get a free lunch at the cafeteria (very helpful when I can’t eat anything there). This meant that I had eight hours to spend in the airport without much food. I had packed myself some crackers, but I wasn’t anticipating that I would be spending so much time in the airport. This is when I realized I should have 1.) brought my Italian chef card with me in case I wanted to try to buy something to eat and 2.) packed more food to snack on just in case I got stuck at the airport. I never usually eat anything on the airplane, even if I bring my own food. I also didn’t have much to eat at my apartment, didn’t have time to buy anything, and was certainly not focused on eating with everything else going on.

The eight hours in the airport worked out okay. I probably spent a good three hours reading the back covers and beginnings of every book in the bookstore. I also found some other people who were bumped to the afternoon flight, to talk and play card games with while waiting. It worked out fine in the end. I also realized how Italian I am becoming! Many of the Americans on my flight were so angry about the delay, whereas I was just like, “Okay, I have eight hours to hang out before I can fly home,” and shrugged my shoulders. It’s funny how things change!

My second flight from Rome to the U.S. was uneventful. I asked them not to serve any bags of nuts (which they didn’t have anyway. I don’t think many European airlines do). Of course I didn’t eat and was starving by the time I arrived home. It was a long day and the memory of my uncle adding greater weight to already heavy family baggage added to its length.

I love you Uncle Howard. You are always in my memory. xo

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