My husband and I were traveling in Italy, with two small babies. One day we took the babies along to go to Assis. The morning was wonderful — feeling like happy pilgrims, we read each other stories of St. Francis while the babies cooed and gurgled as we drove up the winding streets. But by the end of a very hot day, walking uphill and downhill in the 90-degree Italian sun, the two kids were crying nonstop.
One was throwing up; the other had diarrhea. We were all irritable and exhausted, and we had a three-hour trip ahead of us to get back to Florence, where we were staying. Somewhere on the plains of Perugia we stopped at a little trattoria to have dinner. Embarrassed at our bedraggled state and our smelly, noisy children, we sheepishly tried to sneak into the dining room, hoping we could silence the children long enough to order before they threw us out. The proprietor took one look at us, muttered, “You wait — a — here,” and went back to the kitchen.
We thought perhaps we should leave right then, but before we could decide what to do, he reappeared with his wife and teenage daughter. Beaming as they crossed the dining room, the two women threw out their arms, cried, “Oh, babies!” and took the children from our arms, motioning us to sit at a quiet corner table. For the duration of a long and hospitable dinner, they walked the babies back and forth in the back of the dining room, cooing, laughing and singing them to sleep in gentle, musical Italian. The proprietor even insisted we stay and have an extra glass of wine after the babies were asleep! Any parent who has reached the end of his or her rope with an infant will appreciate that God had indeed sent us angels that day.