He was my last remaining grandfather and Miss G's only surviving great-grandfather. He was 90 and he had hardly ever seen a hospital in his life, so one cannot really be too upset, I suppose. Of all my grandparents I always liked him the least. But of course I loved him nonetheless. The funeral is tomorrow, in Italy, and I won't be able to make it.
This post is about him, a man who was the very definition of stubbornness. A man who belonged to a different era in attitude, beliefs and values. The story goes that he was always a bit of a rough kid. The eldest of four brothers born to a poor Italian family right after the First World War. Apparently people thought that my grandmother was mad 'taking him'. She came from a respectable family. Poor, I guess, like everyone was in those days, but she was a skilled seamstress from a respected family whilst he was an angry young man.
She was as meek as he was feiry. She was as accommodating as he was bossy. She was as fervently religious as he was a sworn atheist. She was the shortest woman I have ever met. He was one of the tallest and most athletic of his generation. I never knew why they only had one child. I never really knew my dad, but people say he was a fair mix of the two. Not as rough as my granddad, but not as saintly as my granny. But he did too went for a respectable saintly woman, so maybe he was more like my granddad that I'll ever know.
My granddad hated Mussolini and the fascists more than everything else in the world, priests and the church possibly coming a close second. He was a sworn Communist in a country ruled by the fascists. He was a partisan. His subscription to the Communist Party nearly costed him his beloved job as a postman. But he never backed down. He was that type of a man. For years he rode his postman bike, through snowy winters and boiling Italian summers. He was as fit as he was fiery.
He did not treat my granny too nicely and that is why I never liked him too much. But when she got ill with Alzheimer and quickly faded away, he became another person. He felt guilty for her ill health and visited her daily in her retirement home displaying a tenderness that I never knew he had.
In the past few years he has been living alone, still riding his bike, but feeling melancholic. His feisty nature was dormant at times, but still very much there. He was the most stubborn person I have ever met. He would do it his way, no matter what. He insisted on driving his car, keeping his finances himself and generally refusing help from anyone. He drove people mad, especially those who were only trying to help.
I saw him a month ago when I was in Italy for Christmas. He hugged Little Miss G. The following day he was in hospital unable to breathe. And now he is gone. My last granddad, the last person on my father's side of the family. I will always remember his abrupt ways, his feistiness, his angry outbursts, his belief in his convictions no matter what. He chose not to believe in God, to hate the church till his last day. He opted for a civil funeral, which in Catholic Italy is as rare as a white fly. May you now, at last, rest in peace, granddad.
you would hate me for reminding you this, but here it goes. You made a point of never setting foot in a church, even if you drove granny to church every Sunday, for years and years. You did not come in for my communion or confirmation and bragged about it to the rest of my religious family. You said that I was mad to want to be married in church and that you would have not come in. I said that you should do what you wanted. It turns up that you came in, sat at the front and cried a little. Not such a hard man, after all.
Lots of love,