I love Italy for so many reasons but the Italians’ love of their parents leaves me envious. Ok, true confession time; I am on vacation in Capri, Italy, writing this as the sun beats on my Prosecco, while my eyes dart over the Mediterranean.
My father vacated my life when I was 7 years old and has since passed away. When I see middle-aged men walking down the streets of Capri with their elderly fathers on their arm I am jealous. Today, I watched a birthday party with four generations of men from Naples. The birthday boy, I surmised to be in his mid-eighties, sat in glee as all these men kissed and hugged him several times during the course of the meal. I sat and wondered if I would ever see a 55 year old American man kiss his dad on the face several times.
I love that Italians not only show their love openly and passionately but they understand something I think we Americans miss. They understand the medicine of touch. Think about it, when you are a kid, your parents kiss and hug you all the time. When you become an adult you find a spouse, who you sleep beside and have simple touches with throughout the day. We all love the simple stroke of the hair, holding hands or a great hug.
Then comes elderly life, men generally pass away first, an average of about two years earlier than women. This leaves many women widowed and they lose that touch, no little kids running to hug them daily, no spouse to sleep with, no warmth of another body.
I firmly believe this has a dramatic impact on our health and longevity. It may be why Italian men live an average of 2 years longer than their American counter parts and Italian women over four years longer than American women.
So children give your parents lots of hugs and kisses, it may be the best gift you ever provide them.