Whenever my mum used the expression Faramalocchio! It was an exclamation more than it was an accusation against someone who might be giving you the evil eye. It was more in the vein of:

“Oh for fuck sakes! What happened!” or

“Oh my goodness!” or

“Oh dear!”

As if one had made a mistake of sorts, tripped or slipped or dropped a glass on the concrete tiles and was never at fault.

One day we were sitting in the morning sun, having a cup of tea and she said “Faramalocchio, ma vecchiama! (Oh my, how we’ve aged!)

Which was said more in the vein of a revelation. As if it had just suddenly occurred to her that we were old. It was as if we had just arrived at a place of equal footing, the point of understanding, where everything that she and I had ever experienced was the same and that now we could compare notes on the status of seniority.

In denial, slightly perplexed by the statement, I did not enquire but I imagined that it meant that we had both experienced rites of passage such as marriage, giving birth, buying a house and raising a family. Here we were, two ancient women sitting together stirring memories. Like women may have done in the childhood village of Natile, Calabria, Italy. For her, I think there is a nostalgic longing for the companionship of village life, comfort in the banter of women’s machinations.

Growing old in Australia is a new phenomenon for second-generation 1950 migrants. It’s also a difficult reality that we endure as the stoic parents who once held us, need to be held. That reality hits like an unexpected tsunami of tears, drowning us with the longing for ‘once upon a time’ and ‘if only’.

We all deserve to have good things, as our essence is goodness.

In my 50s I vow to celebrate, appreciate, love more and suffer less, because I am here, alive and kicking. It’s our turn to experience this revelation of wisdom and that growing older transcends beyond sickness and death, but that this milestone is about embracing all the wonderful things that make life beautiful.



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