“Dante, can you babysit my son for two weeks? There is a slight problem in Italy, and I need to solve it alone. I do not want to take Dario with me. He is too young for this.” I looked at the three-year-old and smiled.
“You don’t need to ask, Paolo. Give me your son; my daughter will make him the best dog rider ever.” I joked as I looked at Jolene, who was riding on our Great Dane and laughing her heart out. For a two-year-old, she knows how to control others and wrap them around her little finger.
Jolene was my world. I was the only rock she could hold on to so that her life would not crumble. I dedicated my whole time to my baby, and I felt despondent that Joe would never really get to know her mom since she died while giving birth. I did not want to get re-married, so I had to fill the role of two parents. I will support Jolene in each step of her life. Until she is independent, I will never loosen up. Even then, I doubt that I could loosen up. I knew my business required my full attention, so I brought her everywhere I went, even to the company, to keep her safe and make her feel loved and not neglected. I would die for her.
Dario saw Jolene having fun and wanted to ride on Titan too, so I held him and sat him behind my daughter. “I’m in your debt, Dante. Thank you. See you in about two weeks.” When Dario saw his dad walk out the door, he jumped off Titan and ran to him.
“Dada, stay with Dario.”
The look in Paolo’s eyes made me tear up because it made me think of letting go of my baby girl. “Dario, you must stay with uncle Dante and Jolene for a while. I need to work, buddy. I will be back, don’t worry, okay? I will bring you something sweet when I see you again. Do we have a deal?”
Dario cracked a smile and hugged his dad goodbye. “Don’t forget about the sweets. Bye, dada!” and he left. I looked at the toddlers and saw them hugging each other. Surprisingly, whenever Joe knew someone was sad, she would try to comfort them. It would be funny if they grew up as best friends; frankly, I would not mind it but nothing more.
“Who wants ice cream?” I asked.
Jolene’s head snapped in my direction and beamed. “Ice-ream! Joe wants some.”
“I want some, please,” Dario said politely, and I could not believe that he was the son of the Italian mafia boss. Where did his politeness come from? It was not a bad thing, of course, just unexpected. In Paolo’s world, there was no please, only orders. “Jolene, do you want to share?” Dario asked my baby. Sharing too?
“Dario, are you sure you’re Paolo’s son?” I asked as I laughed, and he was confused. Of course, he was confused; he was only three. “Nevermind, son. Come on, let’s sit in the kitchen and enjoy the ice cream that I made this morning.”
Life was unpredictable. One moment you are playing with angels, and the next minute angels play with you in the afterworld. At the start of the second week of babysitting Dario, I got a phone call from Paolo’s father, Basilio. I felt the blood drain from my body when I heard the word death over the phone. I looked at Dario and cried. He did not realize then that he would never get his promised sweets.
Paolo died in a crossfire, and his father did not tell me further details. I wanted to attend the funeral at least, but Basilio did not allow it. He did not want to endanger my daughter or me. I was furious at him, but when Basilio said he would come and take Dario to raise him in the same environment that would jeopardize my family, I lost it. I cursed a lot over the phone at how irresponsible he would be if he took the little boy in, but Basilio never complained. He listened quietly until I calmed down. He only said one sentence that made me give up and pray to God that Dario would not get involved with the mafia.
Twenty-Five years went by, and I still think of what Basilio said.
“Life is a twister, and you cannot stop it. You wait for it to pass.”