The years in Athens, living by the sea. Problems are the same all over the world, but with the sun on your back and the smell of the ocean they seem lighter. The money just wouldn't stretch in Greece, so they moved to Munich. Back in Munich the smiles didn't stretch as far as the money did. The problems are the same wherever you go. In the grey and cold of the central European winter, they seemed different.
The sun kept bobbing in and out as they travelled and lived in Turin, Rome, Berlin, Munich, Vienna and somewhere along the way, seven years on, their second son was born. To him they were both his - the son that Lilly brought into the marriage and the son they gave birth to. So clear was his responsibility and love towards them both, that his step-son never felt the need to look for or know his biological father. As a child and into adulthood, to this day that remains. How perfectly must that role be played if a child could never tell the difference! They were father and son. Of that, neither ever had any doubts.
While the younger one was just a toddler, there were patches when they had to live apart until job stability and the child's schooling could be brought back into sync. That's the drawback of moving often with a school going child. A drawback, and one of the biggest regrets. To have uprooted a school going child every two years, just when he'd settled into his new environment, made new friends and felt secure - to make him do it all over again. It wasn't right. In the end, it wasn't worth the stress on a child, to have a few hundred more on your pay check at the end of the month. He could have been more sensitive, more mindful of the effects of his decisions. Something that weighs down on him to this day. They were father and son, he should have done better. Enough years have gone by to let it go. He still hasn't forgiven himself.
Both the boys are absorbed in their lives. They rarely call to find out how he is. Lots of parents have that problem when the kids leave home. That's ok. That's how it is now. There is no bitterness, no anger. There is no self-pity in solitude.
Sadness. There is sadness. A sadness that is exceeded only by an acceptance and understanding. Not burdened on any other. A naturally cheerful disposition transforms insistent melancholy and grief into self-reflection.
For self-reflection there is ample time. Endless time. Homesickness was something he never knew. Since being called up for military service at the age of 18 he's been away from home, and never been homesick. Some say home is where the 'heat' is, to recharge the solar-cells. Still others say home is where you hang the hat.
Home was where Lilly was. Never mind, she was still in Rome while he had to move to Turin or he was in Munich while she had to stay back in Vienna. She was on this planet. She was home.
Ever since she's passed, the sun is setting in the twilight years. Homeless.