Forgiveness and acceptance

We interupt our scheduled programming for a brief interlude of sentiment. Apologies in advance for squishiness, but in the spirit of “foreigners,” all of us need translators sometimes, and a “open hand.”

When we visited Italy just after the boys had been diagnosed as autistic, I remember being intensely annoyed by people saying that I was 'bellisima,' which roughly translates to 'beautiful.'

You should know, that physically I resemble an elderly stick insect, bi-focaled, with more than a touch of the grays. I assumed that they were being both polite, kindly and patronizing, but I was at a loss to know which I found more annoying or why? My dear Italian mother in law, detected my irritation and gave me a different version. It has taken me a long time to translate her meaning………..


We meet a woman in the park. [translation – the most loathsome place on the planet] My boys amble around in a wayward spirit. The woman, probably an office worker, is minding her own business with a sandwich during the ridiculous lunch time hour of 11.30 in the morning!

My oldest son, he who is blind to all “people,” finds, for some unaccountable reason, that she has entered his radar. She has been singled out. He skips over her, and cavorts before her, one leg entwined around the other, his whole body twisted into a twine, a huge, but shy grin, is spread across his face as he extracts words. “You are my friend?” says the nearly 8 year old. She smiles sweetly at him in response.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your indulgence. She wears a wedding ring, [translation = perhaps she is married with children?]


“I can touch you?” he asks demurely. Her face opens slightly, as I hover behind him. “Sure.”
His hands flutter to her face, fingers brush her features, the actions of the blind, as his eyes are downcast to her shoes. “Your nose is so…..beautiful,” he whispers in a breathy tone. As noses go, this is an above average nose, in size. I wince. She blanches. He squeals with delight, and I recall the Saturday night movie of Pinnochio, which is no solace.

“Can you use your words to describe her inside?” I prompt, after endless debates about people's exterior visage and interior territory. He snaps his face towards me, annoyed, “I know dat!” I take a step back and another step forward.

“I can touch you?” She nods acquiescence. He rests his skull against her sternum, his hands flutter around her upper arms, as he dances a static jig. His whole body vibrates. We are in a capsule. Inviolate.

“She is soft. You are so warm. You are dah beautiful,” he finishes. He stands erect. Flicks off the charge.

She blinks. So do I. He scampers off to leave the two of us looking at each other.

“You are so lucky!” she wheezes, as she gathers her half eaten sandwich and scurries away.

“So are you, dear lady,” I whisper to her disappearing shadow. Belissima. So you are.

Regardless of the language, spoken or non-verbal, kindness does not need any translation.

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