Chapter I: The Answer is Yes!
If Jed Clampett and Granny could leave the Ozarks and move to Beverly Hills, then J.C. and Janice Upton (my parents) could leave Tennessee and take a trip to Italy. It’s not like they aren’t already well traveled–they love to travel. But they are usually doing ministry when they travel. I can’t remember the last time they took a trip for pleasure.
God provided a great deal just in time, however, and two airline tickets were reserved from Atlanta to Rome. A simple call alerted them to the idea. “Mama and Daddy, do you want to come to Italy?”
They were stunned. “The answer is Yes!” my father bellowed.
Fast forward three weeks. After leaving Atlanta on a Monday afternoon, my parents’ plane hovered over the Adriatic Sea early on a Tuesday the first week of November, and I awoke 20 minutes late… too late to drive. I decided to catch a train to pick them up. On the way, I spotted a gorgeous rainbow shining brightly to my right, though I saw no rain. I felt happy, nervous, and grateful.
I found them in the airport, talking to another American they’d cornered who was trying to help them call me because of course I was an hour late (my life-long struggle.) We all hugged, including the stranger, and we were off toward Naples where I’d been living and working for almost six weeks.
Of course, our train broke down on the way. We had to grab all our luggage and join the mad dash with all the other passengers across the station to catch a new train. My mother, jetlagged and hungry, asked pitifully, “Tabi, how long till we get there? This is a long trip!” Finally, around 5pm, I dropped them off at the Holiday Inn.
It wasn’t just any Holiday Inn…This hotel was situated in a hollowed out mountain over a huge mall called, Volcano Buono Mall (meaning “Good Volcano” in Italian, which we assumed meant “dead” volcano). The entry way sparkled with dazzling lights and modern décor. My mother plumped up as she walked toward the reservation desk. “You know your mother loves nice hotels! This is a vacation in itself,” she remarked, regaining some twinkle.
My father had been folded tightly into what he called my “toy rental car” and now seemed to unfold slowly as we took the glass elevators to their room. I left them there to sleep…