Sunday, March 18, 2018

A happy confluence of events leads me to another surprise cousin encounter

God blessed me with another little miracle, in the same remote city where He had done His handiwork seven years ago. At that time, through a series of remarkable coincidences, I met Rosa Spadoni, a 99-year-old fourth cousin in an encounter that blessed both of us (read Little gift from God).

That incident left me wondering why God would go so out of His way to help me discover my Italian roots. I still don’t know why, but if I had any doubts about His intentions to bless me, they were erased today, when I stumbled into another sequence of fortuitous events.

Erin and Yan on a wet day in San Quirico di Valleriana.
We have three friends visiting us, and I saw a sign advertising a sagra from 2 p.m. to sunset in San Quirico, a little hill town in the valley above Pescia. Because it had rained hard all morning, we figured the sagra was probably postponed, but by around 3 p.m., the rain had decreased, so Erin, Yan, Susy and I decided to give it a try while Lucy stayed home to rest.

The rain had returned by the time we arrived, and the parking lot was nearly empty, so our chances of participating in a festa were slim. Still, San Quirico is a beautiful ancient village, so we pulled out our umbrellas and took a stroll. When we reached the central piazza, it was quiet and empty, and by then we were positive there would be no Sagra of the Necci (a chestnut flour crepe) this day.

However, Erin needed to use a bathroom, and the only way to do that in an Italian town is to find a bar—which may not exist in San Quirico. However, we did hear some laughter coming from a nearby building, so we ventured closer and found that it was not a public bar but rather a circolo—a social club for the locals. I went inside and found a group of about 20 people gathered around a couple of tables, talking, laughing and playing the card games scopa and briscola.
The San Quirico social circle (Circolo ARCI).

I asked about the sagra—postponed until April 8—and if my friend could use the bathroom. Of course, they said, and one of them showed us the way. Just as we were about to leave, it occurred to me that since we were in the city where I had met Rosa seven years before, some of the people in this club must have known her (I doubted that she was still alive, since she would have been 106 by now).

By chance, the second man I spoke to not only knew her, he was one of her sons, Giorgio Dinelli (we had met his brother Avio in 2011). I explained to him that by pure chance, I had met his mom some years before, and I had since discovered how we were related. Giorgio and I are fifth cousins. I also met Giorgio’s wife, Erminda. They informed me that Rosa had passed away at the age of 102.

Giorgio Dinelli and Paul Spadoni, 5th cousins.
We exchanged some information about our families, and before we left, they invited me to drop by their house in the future. It turns out they live in Marginone, just down the hill from us in Montecarlo. In future days, I’ll draw up a chart showing Giorgio how we are related and provide him some Spadoni family history dating back to the arrival of the first Spadonis in this region in the 1400s.

This meeting would not have occurred had the sagra not been rained out, nor if Erin had not needed to use the bathroom. In fact, I wouldn’t have gone on such a rainy day if weren’t for our guests. I came on the right day, at the right time.

Our main goals in coming to Italy are to learn the language, learn to live like Italians, research my family history, meet cousins and make friends. I’m grateful for the happy confluence of events that God orchestrated to bring me in contact with this pleasant branch of the family a second time.

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