Final Hurdles

Day 16 After the Fall

The next morning I had to figure out how to ship our two enormous suitcases back to Canada in less than 24 hours: another Herculean task cheerfully plopped onto my plate by good old GE.

First I whipped over to the ospedale to deliver the good news about our departure to Jay. I left him smiling and returned to my room to research courier services on my iPad.

Late in our stay (when my brain began to work again), it had dawned on me that I had a number of useful resources at my fingertips, as long as I was at La Collina and attached to the internet. For instance, I could translate English to Italian… in written form at least. This was no use at the hospital but it did allow me to communicate with my hosts. Similarly, rather than worrying about SIM cards and phone bills (I’d had to recharge my new SIM card once already) I could use Skype to call anywhere in the world for a pittance.

That hot Saturday morning in Perugia, I Skype-called FedEx in Canada to discuss the business of luggage pickup and delivery. We talked for about half an hour and it all seemed delightfully simple until the woman on the phone realized that in Italy all offices were closed Saturdays and Sundays. Had I been in Canada, she said, no problem, they could arrange pick up that day. But of course had I been in Canada I would not have needed this service.

“Well what can I do?” I asked.

“Well I don’t know,” she said.

For the umpteenth time since landing in Italy I felt on the edge of hysteria. I had two huge suitcases that I could not abandon. Who could I turn to?

There really was only one person: Giorgio.

I hated to do it. He’d been back to visit a few days ago. We’d had fond farewells; he gave us a book on Perugia, “So you come back and see next time!”

We’d given him a box of chocolates from Stratford. There had been lots of nodding and grinning and hugs where possible. I’d been so pleased he’d given up chasing down the police report… and now…

I texted Janet. With exceptional alacrity, she contacted Giorgio and explained our dilemma. It was now noon. He promised to come by La Collina at 6:00 to collect the suitcases. FedEx could pick up the suitcases from him on Monday. Whew.

Using my newfound translation program I explained to my hosts that I really would be checking out the next morning, quite early (I had been threatening to leave ever since I cancelled Mike’s reservation.) I settled my bill, then headed back to the hospital for lunch.

When I explained the latest developments, Jay rolled his eyes in a “what can you expect from GE?” manner. We discussed what exactly we would take in our two small bags on the plane. And we began to say good-bye to the nurses.

We had become quite fond of them. Jay particularly liked pretty young blonde Marcella, I can’t imagine why. But all of them had warmed to us over time, and we to them. They were clearly delighted, for our sakes, that we’d soon be home. We were effusive in our thanks…and I gave them the remaining bouquet of flowers from my room.

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Shortly after lunch a man and a woman walked into the room and said “Hello. Are you James Klassen?” in perfect, really quite Canadian English.

We stared at them gobsmacked. “Yes.”

They introduced themselves as Ashley and Keith, the medical personnel who would accompany us home. They’d arrived! It was real!

“Are we going right now?” I asked in alarm. What about Giorgio and the luggage? I wasn’t even packed.

“No, no,” said Ashley. ”Tomorrow morning. We just flew in from Canada – but we wanted to meet you and explain how tomorrow will unfold, answer any questions, make sure James is all ready and we have the paperwork from the hospital. Then we will go sleep and see you in the morning.”

Jay and grinned like kids. English-speaking people here to take control, sort out details, explain things to us. It was better than Christmas!

Despite her lack of Italian, Ashley took charge, questioning the nurses, noting all the medications Jay needed and somehow arranging the discharge papers.

Then she walked us through the plan. I was to be in Jay’s room by 7:30 with our two small bags. She would arrange for a taxi to take two of us to the airport, while the other one would ride with Jay in the medical transport. We’d depart at 9:00, land to refuel in Iceland and then Newfoundland, get into Toronto circa 3:30, where another medical transport would be waiting to take us to Stratford General Hospital. I was to avoid fluid intake prior to the flight; Jay had a catheter.

While I felt uneasy about not having access to a toilet (I am known for my tiny bladder), mostly I was floating on air. We would be home so soon! Both Jay and I had to restrain ourselves from hugging Keith and Ashley.

She laughed. “It’s definitely one of the perks of this job. People are always happy to see us!”

Happy didn’t begin to describe it.

When they left, everything in place, I dashed home to pack and prepare. I called Sandy at the Embassy and Becky, to tell them the good news and thank them again. I’d been in frequent contact with both over the past two weeks and really they’d been saviours. I emailed everyone in Canada, so they would wake up to good news at last! I placed another Skype call to FedEx, wanting to be sure the bill would be charged to my (recently opened) account, so Giorgio would at least not have to pay anything. In the course of the conversation I learned, to my horror, that in Italy FedEx does not do home pickup. You have to drop off the parcel (or in this case suitcases) at their office. And you have to fill in many complicated forms, obtainable on the website.

I texted Janet again with this horrible news. Would Giorgio be willing to drop the suitcases off? She got back to me in mere minutes: no problem, Giorgio was up to the task.

I ran downstairs, iPad in hand, and via translation asked if my hosts could print some forms. They graciously agreed to do so. I took the long forms back upstairs and tried to fill in all the details, but had to get back on the Skype hotline to North American FedEx to finally get it all filled in. Even then I was not sure I had it right

Janet texted to say Giorgio was at La Collina but couldn’t find me! I’d asked the hosts to tell him where I was, but…I raced downstairs and there he was, waiting. The two of us wrestled the absurdly large suitcases down into his very small car.

He then told me there was no FedEx office in Perugia. My heart sank. How many more hurdles could there be?

“No problem,” he said. “I take them to (incomprehensible name). It is only 25 kilometers.”

What? No office in the city of Perugia but one is some tiny town 25 kilometers away? I felt terrible. “I am so sorry, Giorgio. I did not realize.”

He waved me off. “No problem. I do this. You go home. No problem.”

I fell all over myself thanking him. He smiled, hugged me again and left, likely feeling quite relieved to be seeing the last of me.

Could it possibly be that all was in place and this would be my last night at La Collina? As I choked down another sandwich from the hospital cafeteria for supper, sorely missing my little ristorante, I earnestly hoped so.

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