With one year of culture shock under our belts, I invited my mother to come live with us. After all, she was 68 year old widow, in good health, with no job….when else will she get the opportunity to live in a foreign country and tour exotic destinations. It didn’t take much to convince her. One day, while wrestling with her swimming pool vacuum, I said, “why don’t you leave all this behind and move to Italy with us?” I thought I would go ahead and plant the seed so that we could discuss the proposition over the next few weeks. But her abrupt, “OK,” took me by surprise.
So just what happens when you take a Southern mother and daughter….and force them to cohabitate…in a foreign country? You get some very funny stories. Stories about finding the humor in everyday things – whether it was the people we encountered, ordering unknown things from an Italian menu or simply trying to translate the cooking directions on a package of food.
I soon realized that you can take the girl out of Georgia, but you can’t take the Georgia out of the girl. Well…at least the Georgia accent. When mom first arrived in Italy, armed with a CD player and the 12-step Berlitz Italian language program, we teased her about her Georgitalia accent. A southern drawl just doesn’t blend into a romance language. And so, Mom has brought the world a new dialect of this romance language, Georgitalia.
When mom conceded that she would like to make an extended trip to Milan, one of her requests was that she be allowed to pack dried beans and cornbread in her suitcase; her ultimate comfort foods. One day, while visiting a local military base where we enjoyed commissary privileges, she excitedly grabbed a bag of dried bean soup as if she’d found a sparkling diamond ring exclaiming, “I’ll make a big pot of bean soup when your brothers arrive next week.” I chuckled at her naïveté and gently responded, “They are not traveling to Italy to eat bean soup!”