Graham Di Duca: May 2020
I suppose, just like anyone else's lockdown story, mine is just as much about what I haven't done as what I have. I had many things planned for this Spring and all those events have been cancelled. My son and his family were due to fly from their home in Dallas, Texas for a two week stay. Not only did we miss seeing him but his wife and our only grandchild. So, that was a very sad loss. As they returned States-side I was scheduled to fly to Lisbon to walk the Camino Portugues from Lisbon in Portugal to Santiago de Compostella in Spain and then to Muxia and Finisterre on the Atlantic coast. That would have been about 470 miles and, at the time of writing this, I should have completed 220 of those miles and be approaching Porto.
Instead of all that I have been home with Julia and observing the restrictions on movement and social contact. In many ways, and a little perversely, I have enjoyed the excuse to be lazy. I say 'lazy' but I have been out running most days and clocked up 32 miles last week. I know that because I have become a convert to Strava, an 'app' on my phone that records and maps all my runs telling me the time, distance and elevation gained on each occasion. My main occupation, however, has been research into my family history. I have been doing this for a number of years but I hit a rich vein of discovery just as lockdown occurred and if lockdown had to happen it could not have come at a better time.
It will not surprise you that I had four grandparents. My mother's parents were both English and all my ancestors on that side, as far back as I can trace, are from North Lincolnshire. My father's mother was Scottish from Dumfries and her ancestors were either from there or Berwickshire. By far more interesting are the roots of my Italian paternal grandfather, Alberto Di Duca. I had managed to trace my English and Scottish roots back to 1700s long back but researching Italian heritage is far more challenging. We live, however, in the age of the internet and that makes research far easier. Even more helpful is that Italian states and provinces codified the recording of births, deaths and marriages in 1809 and records from that date up to 1929 in some cases are available on line. The fact is that it has been easier to research my Italian heritage than my British and to do so in far greater depth. So, in the early weeks of lockdown I was working up to 10 hour days everyday trawling through Italian records.
It hasn't all been research and running; I finally got round to tidying my garden shed and cleaning our skylight windows. During this time we have still been church and again the internet has been a blessing. Not everyone has the internet and e-mails but at Gayle and Bainbridge we have been able to create an eighteen person e-mail group to which I send the weekly notices and links to Rev Melanie's virtual pastoral visits and her Sunday reflections. In addition, many local Methodists have joined in with the Anglicans to create prayer chains with requests circulated by telephone. None of this is as good as meeting in person but these times will pass and I am sure these lines of communication will be used even after some kind of normality is found post-pandemic.
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