Chapter 13

My dad

I think the death of my Dad in 2004 was a turning point for me, psychologically and emotionally.

I suppose I was a child until that day May 13thwhen he died. I grew up as a human being in that last period of his existence, especially that day.

I am not going to write a description of his last years .

I am not going to write about his death.

I had the privilege of spending the last 4 days with him in a normal room, out of IC.

He had a bad heart and was waiting to receive a heart from a donor, in the meanwhile , in the intensive care unit where he stayed, he got a virus which destroyed his heart.

I refuse to tell you what happened and what I felt for several reasons.

I am not the type of person who tells sad things to make people sad.

I am not the type of person either who wants to look better because of sad and tragic events.

I am the type of person who wants to celebrate life every day of my life.

Today, it is March 19th 2020, in Italy it is Father’s Day and I want to celebrate him my own way.

My dad’s name was Carlo, he took it from his father’s father. This great grandfather is the only one I never met.

I was so lucky I met all of my great grandparents and with my great grandmother Doralice who lived next door, I was very close. Great grandmother Doralice was his spouse, she died almost 100 years old, she was a person I highly admired and an inspiration for me.

I use her cookbook in my cuisine, she was a tiny old woman with long, long hair she used to wear in an old style chignon.

She became a widow in her 40s and run an estate of 120 hectares, farms with cows and pigs, fruit trees, all on her own.

I am telling you about my great grand mother and her strong personality because I think my dad took after her.

He was tall, kind of imposing, very determined in being himself, never tried to please anyone.

He wore glasses like me and used to say of himself “ I am not handsome, but people like me a lot”.

It is true.

All of my guests, who had the pleasure of getting to know him, when they write to me, they always mention him.

Until he was alive, at Christmas time, he was the one who received most of the gifts from the guests.

I still have his Photo Album where he saved all the postcards received from them.

He loved entertaining them offering something to drink and eat. He was very sociable and generous, he loved cooking and entertaining. He did not drink any alcohol though.

The day guests were leaving, he made sure to give them his address and would ask if they could send him a post card.

I also have his photo album with letters and photos sent by the guests.

Every foreigner here adored him, he was very open, funny and full of personality.

He studied as a land surveyor but wanted to become a pilot, but my grandfather did not want him to do that and his bad sight also prevented him from succeeding.

He had a few different jobs managing companies and then running his own, but started his career running his father’s estate. He was very competent and innovative in agriculture and also earned a few State Prizes.

He was extremely educated, we still have his collection of books.

I think he had more than 5000 books, he read every day of his life.. Mostly history books but was interested in many subjects.

Many books were in French, he loved reading in French.

He studied English on his own so he was able to communicate with the guests, not perfectly but he was very easy to understand in his special way of communication.

I adore him.

I never use the past tense when I speak of him. I always use the present tense.

I say “ he is” or He goes “. When I speak, I only speak of him in the present tense.

Because I have always felt him near me, next to me.

He has never abandoned me and to be honest, if I do something wrong, if I have a fight with Jacques, I know he is the one who tells me to go back and make it up.

He travelled all over the world. I took after him.

His dream was to explore new Countries but, most of all, he loved meeting new people.

He visited several continents and could tell you a different anecdote about almost any Country.

He was smart, educated, but not a scholar.

He hated school.

He was not a good student because he was very independent and disliked to stay within any scheme.

I must admit I took my discipline in my studies from my mom and her dad who was a doctor and had a very disciplined and strict cultural background.

My dad loved freedom and independency.

He was lucky he found my mom who is so gentle and gracious because I don’t think it was easy for anyone to have a relationship with him.

He was stubborn and determined.

He never followed anyone advice.

He adored me, Jacques and Alex and my great happiness is that he met our son and could enjoy him for almost 9 years.

Occasionally I ask my son if he still remembers my dad, and Alex gets mad at me because he says: ”Of course, mom, I do. How can you think I will forget him?” But to me this is essential.

I don’t go very often to the cemetery, I don’t like these things very much.

I usually go when I feel like he wants to see me there. And when that happens, it is beautiful. I don’t cry often at the cemetery.

Since he passed away, I cry for no reason, well, I can see or smell or talk about something that reminds him to me and I start crying.

I am not ashamed to cry.

I often cry in front of my guests or friends too.

I think being sad or missing someone is natural.

I don’t refrain myself from any emotions.

I cry, I laugh, I smile, I also scream when I need to.

I think my balance has been reached many years ago when I decided to be who I am and I never pretended to be different to please anyone.

My emotional balance translates into my health in hard times.

My dad was so proud of me studying Latin and Greek because he took two years of those studies too. He adored my university because he always thought the job of an interpreter was “cool”. He loved me going to the States. He was so proud of me.

He was in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, he visited an Amish village, if I remember correctly, in Pennsylvania, he adored the States because he thought that was the place to express yourself, your capabilities and your personality.

He was in Canada and participated in the World Expo in Montréal, Quebec and was sent by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, at the time he was running his family estate.

He adored Moscow, St. Petersbourg, He was in Usbeksitan, Tajikistan, in Thailand, in Hong Kong, anywhere in Europe.

He was in so many different and unusual places and I loved his stories about his travels.

I could spend days with him in front of the fireplace in his home listening to his stories.

One of the most incredible holidays I ever had was the one with him and my mom in England, we left with our red FIAT and drove through half Europe and visited the places I was dying to get to know.

That happened in 1976, the hottest summer ever in England, so many amazing memories.

I wrote a Journal each day of that incredible adventure and I still have it.

We had many amazing trips in Europe with our caravan, he loved to holiday in camping sites because he loved being among foreigners.

You may understand why I am who I am, why I speak several foreign languages and why I run a business in the Hospitality field welcoming only foreigners.

I really believe his way of being has influenced me without me even realizing it.

If it is true that nobody can manipulate or tell me what to do, but I must admit I was influenced by him.

And our work in our Bed and Breakfast became full time; we passed from 2 to 3 and then to 4 rooms as the Regional Law prescribes.

I am very, very happy that when he passed away he knew we were doing very well and Jacques and I were happy.

His last question, before dying, was “ How is Jacques, where is he?”

I answered he was home taking care of the B&B and would come in the afternoon.

I know why he asked that.

He wanted to make sure Jacques was fine, we were happy and I would not ever been alone.

I have not stopped smiling since my Dad passed away.

No matter what, I smile.

He is happy if I am happy and there is no way I don’t want to please him….