The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be the one who returned. Back then, it was considered a daughter’s duty. Sons were the ones who became consumed by the families of their wives. Not Luigi. The baby. The black sheep. Always coming home with bruises and bloody scratches and fantastical stories of fights and skirmishes where he always emerged the victor. He’d been certain his parents, who always shook their heads at the tales of his misadventures, were relieved to be rid of him when he finally left home.
But, when no one could stand to see her emaciated figure, wracked with pain, not even Father, when everyone else sent only excuses, he’d come back from places unknown, and held Mother’s hand until the ugly, bitter end.
On the last day, at her insistence, he leaned in close. With the hint of laughter in her voice, she whispered, “You were always my favorite.”