He is Italian, a young man from Bologna.
That was the start of many interesting conversations, always with wine, but seldom about wine.
He introduced me to his buddies and welcomed me as one of Them, and I introduced him to my best friends in Shanghai and my family in Hong Kong.
He was curious about my spiritual home Hangzhou. Interestingly, he came back once from a visit to Hangzhou on a day when it rained cats and dogs, but he declared in all seriousness that this is the most beautiful place he has ever seen in rain.
I was even more curious about his home Bologna, and not just because this is the land the Greeks called Oenotria. As orphans of almost contemporary ancient empires, we share a lot more besides wine, above all a deep respect for culture, and wine is but one manifestation of culture.
In many happy evenings, we talked about almost everything under the sun.
I can never forget the day when he came to my home and discovered my CD collection. He picked a Rolling Stones record and then sat down, all absorbed in the music. A sweet smile blasted from his face.
And that was the first time I learned about his father: a collector of music records, and a lot of other stuff as well. A record collection or any collection always reminds him of his beloved father. And that probably drew me closer to his father, and to him.
He is Claudio, and his father is Maurizio. With his mother Sonia, they share a beautiful house looking out at a mountain range that extends southward to Chianti, Montalcino and Montepulciano.
We are therefore neighbors.
The highlight of our dream trip to Italy last year was our last stop at Bologna.
Maurizio gave me a most unforgettable welcoming gift: he made me a CD of his best loved songs entitled “Morris: Personal Score into the Life”. There were 17 songs, and we share our love for more than half of them: The Who, Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard, Jackson Browne, CCR, and above all, Bruce Springsteen.
After I came home, I made him a CD of my favorites, including a few Cantonese opera standards, and Maurizio reciprocated with a collection of what is probably the Bob Dylan of Italy: Fabrizio De André.
I thought it amazing that Destiny would connect Maurizio and me: two lonely souls who can hardly communicate in words, yet we know deep down that we are like looking at a mirror when we meet each other.
Two days ago, Claudio told me that Maurizio has left us.
… … … … …
Our loss is the Creator’s gain, that’s how I try to comfort myself.
Rest in peace, Morris. We’ll remember you, and we’ll surely meet again.