By Laurie Peterson Benson

March 8, 2023

Because I am going to

Italy this spring,

traveling with my

brilliant professoressa,

who is also my sorella,

I am learning again to

speak the smallest amounts

of a new language.

Much like when I was

a three-year-old, wanting

to be understood, but

understanding more.

more than I could say.

And in the word, “good-bye.”

Why is it good, when someone

is leaving?

And “arrivederci,” possibly

it’s wrong? Confusing.  A

word that means farewell

begins with the word


Perhaps I worry about words

too much.

Like Emily Dickinson who

said something like,

there is nothing

in the world that has

more power than a word.

Maybe, worry is not

the word for what I do,

perhaps decipher or

work out.  Decode

and decrypt.

I asked my grandson if

he wanted oatmeal for

dinner.  You love it! I

reminded him.

Oatmeal?  I don’t like oatmeal.

I said, “meatloaf,” didn’t I?

Didn’t I?

They do have the same

letters, we figured out.

At seven, he’s learning

vowel pairs, and syllables.

Two syllables, grammy.



Not exactly, he says.  Else

it would be Oatmeaf.

I smile.

Do I have paraphasia?

Is that what happens when

you retire from teaching?

Substituting one word for

another and not hearing

yourself doing it?

Maybe all I need to

remember how to say

this spring, in Italy, is

“Grazie a tutti.”

Thank you all.  

Or is it

“Tutto bene?”

Is everything alright?