An afternoon with Emma

13 years ago Kaitlynn Kopeski 0

kaity-and-brittney2Her name is Emma Tome and she is lovely.

“ I’ve lost touch to do many things,” she said as her delicately wrinkled hands perfectly poured 10 cups of coffee for college students who, 30 minutes ago were strangers, but were now crowded around her dining table.

At 85 Emma may have lost touch for some things, but other things have only improved with time.
Emma is still an artist, a rather excellent artist at that. Seventeen paintings adorn her walls; all painted by her. The subjects of the paintings allow a glimpse into her character. Nature is the primary muse. Her love for nature extends to love for animals.

“You can’t have a better friend than an animal,” Emma said.

When I met Emma, she was not alone, but with Stella, a tiny 15-year-old dog that accompanies her everywhere. They were on their way to feed some chickens and cats that lived in a beautiful abandoned house. While throwing handfuls of corn to the chickens, she told me a story.

The house, built in 1891, belongs to an elderly man who lives next door. Emma used to see the man feeding the animals every day, but then one day last November he stopped. The man had a stroke. Concerned, Emma asked about the animals and was informed that no one wanted to take care of them. She adopted the animals, and every day since then she has come to feed the creatures.

Emma likes to adopt. She adopted Stella and her cat Tippy. She adopted meandering American students in a little Italian town called Sacile one Saturday afternoon.

“You seem lost,” she said before inviting us for coffee.

Minutes later in her home, Emma told us stories about “lovely” times in London with her husband. She told us about the jewelry stores her husband owned, and her theories on Princess Diana. She told us about “terrible” times in London during World War II and how sometimes she can still hear airplanes flying overhead and vividly see the bombs dropping all around.

After I come home I will remember Emma. Of course, I will remember St. Mark’s square, the Coliseum, the Eifel Tower and the Parthenon. But buildings, no matter how awe-inspiring, can never affect me the way people do. People, like Emma, overflowing with stories, wisdom and love. It was only a couple of hours, but to borrow words from Emma, it was “a lovely afternoon.”