Thursday, March 14, 2019

Coffee with Ralph and Lidia

I happened to see my dear Italian neighbour, Ralph, on Monday morning, as he was backing his car out of the driveway. When he saw me, his face lit up, he stopped his car, and opened the door to say (as he often does), "I haven't seen you for a longa-time!"

Conscious that his car was partly blocking the street as it was, I told him that I would come for coffee the next morning, and, satisfied, he drove off to the bank as he'd planned. So yesterday, I packed up a few St. Paddy's Day lucky four-leaf clover cookies and walked a block to visit him and his lovely wife, Lidia.

Turns out it was Ralph's 94th birthday on Sunday, and one of the first things he told me (as I settled at the kitchen table for some of Lidia's wonderful espresso), was that I would have to come and help him plant his garden soon! His son, Alfonso, had stopped by for coffee and was already seated at the table. A plumber by trade, Alfonso teased his father, saying, "Don't you think you'd better get an estimate first?"

When I told Lidia how good her coffee was, she immediately got up to get me an extra little espresso pot and Ralph disappeared to find a can of Medaglia d'Oro Caffè (Gold Medal Coffee of the Arabica variety) to take home and make for myself. Lidia also gave me back two jars in which I'd previously brought over plum jelly (made from Ralph's plums in the fall) and dehydrated apple slices (made from Ralph's apples). She wastes nothing, my friend Lidia.

We sat and chatted for over an hour, mourning the loss of the Ethiopian plane crash victims, shaking our head over the latest political shenanigans, and setting some of the world's other problems straight while I ate too many Italian cookies. Lidia told me I'm like an extra daughter to her when I come visit, and I told the two of them that I love them, too. In this year of focusing on my blessings, I definitely have to count my loving Italian neighbours!

To be honest, I've been having a sad time of late, partly because of the deaths of some other special friends, one of them just a little younger than me. Though I know I will also lose these two elderly friends eventually, for now, visiting Lidia and Ralph is balm for the soul every single time. And not because of Lidia's delicious espresso and Italian Centre cookies, but because Ralph and Lidia are salt-of-the-earth people with warm and beautiful souls who would literally give you the espresso maker out of their cupboard!