By Sister Ann Carmen Barone, OSF
Centennials and Jubilees seem to conjure up memories. Many of them focus on special people in our lives. Friday, May 6, 2016 would have been my Father’s 100th birthday. My brothers and I were comparing notes and sharing stories and recapturing George Barone’s spirit.
Joe was still remembering getting a call from his neighbor in Columbus that Dad was sleeping in the car waiting for the family to wake up so he could see his first grandchild play soccer and then get back to Sandusky to work at the restaurant.
Don was laughing about Dad’s ability to be a matchmaker and then spin the story. My cousin and one of the waitresses were sweet on each other. Dad had seen the waitress head into the walk in cooler to restock the butter supply at her station and casually sent my cousin in to check on the supply of fresh spaghetti sauce. Dad never missed a chance to add a touch of humor in finishing the story. “I opened the walk in and found them kissing an – pause – “the butter was melted.”
My own special memory goes back to 1974 when I joined the family in Rome. Dad asked what I wanted to do on Sunday. My brothers wanted to shop and certainly did not want to go to see the Pope. Well, I mentioned that I really wanted to go to Assisi.
I soon found myself on a train with my Dad traveling north. The sun was shining and the hills were full of brilliant red poppies. When the train stopped Dad grabbed his signature briefcase and a cab that took us to one of the gates to the city. I watched my Dad walking a bit ahead of me and when he turned it was like he was handing me Assisi on a platter full of love.
We roamed the city together making sure that we soaked in the special sites that connected the dots of the Franciscan story. I’m sure we ate, but I don’t remember that nor do I remember buying any souvenirs. Time flew but we couldn’t, so a taxi took us to San Damiano where a friar led us into the interior courtyard, which is no longer a public respite but is very visible from St. Clare’s dormitory. And then on to the Portiuncula. The basilica was bigger than life and the Port was truly a treasured home.
The afternoon melted away as we headed back to the train station. When I look back it is funny that I don’t remember it as an afternoon in Assisi as much as it is a precious afternoon with my Dad.
We joked on the return trip. No greater love than this has a father than to grant his daughter an afternoon in Assisi while leaving his wife, sons and credit card in Rome. Happy 100th Birthday, Dad. I’m sure you’re celebrating and still watching over us. And Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Both of you continue to be a blessing to us from God’s loving hand.