How many times in life have you heard from your elders, “Stop and Smell the Roses”? When I was a young boy mio Palermitan Nonno would say, “Lorenzo, fermarse e odorare le rose”. Then, he would translate it for me. As a young person, I always wanted more and moved quickly. As I grew older, I became involved in school, then marriage, a family, work. All of a sudden, my children were gone and my wife and I were alone.
Looking in the mirror, I saw an older man yet felt like a young man. Retirement was upon us. We talked about it, but never found the time prepare properly for it or take time out to enjoy life’s magnificent moments. Here we were now fully retired. It was a time to be happy, yet we became so accustomed to rushing around that we never – fermarse e odorare le rose.
The words of mio Nonno Siciliano came back to me as the wife and I sat on our patio having breakfast or our evening meal. All of a sudden, the “parole” began to haunt me. I mentioned this to my wife as we relaxed to talk at length, possibly for the first time we’d done that in many years.
Now, we had no required place to attend. I said, “Look at the squirrels running up and down the trees. Oh my, I never realized they could jump so far, almost looking as if they could fly”. We spent hours just watching them in amazement. For the first time in many years, we noticed the birds hustling and bustling around with twigs in their beaks. We began to notice the variety of birds. It was interesting to see how they protected each other as well.
One morning, as we sipped on our coffee, we observed a cardinal and his mate building a nest in a tree planted in the front yard. All of a sudden, a bird of another variety flew by and prepared to enter the cardinal’s territory. Out of nowhere, that cardinal flew at warp speed and began attacking the bird. The bird began to fly away and the redbird pursued him until he was well off in the distance. Then, the cardinal came back and took up his station on the lamp post close to the tree. Suddenly, we realized that our witnessing this incident led to a lengthy conversation.
The amazement of what took place was breath taking. Most of all my jaw dropped when I observed how the animal life we usually ignore took care of their families in the same manner as humans protect their offspring. Here, thanks to retirement, we were doing what “mio Nonno” suggested many years earlier. We were “fermarsi e odorare le rose.” Before we knew it, instead of eating and running, here we sat an hour and a half later, just enjoying each other in conversation.
Now we began to understand the true wisdom of my grandfather’s words. My, we thought, how many years did we waste by not taking more time with each other as well as reserving more time to enjoy our children? Now that I am the “nonno e bisnonno” and my wife is the “bisnonna” we try to impart this more relaxed way of life to our “figli, nipoti e pronipoti “.
Dr. Larry Mione
..a professor of education at the University of Central Florida, has just retired.