It is July. It is time of the Tour de France. I am watching the cyclists who are challenging one another on the French roads. A glance is sufficient and I find the inspiration to write a short article dedicated to you, grandfather Gino. To fix in time, like the photographer who stops the image, my emotions and my memories. You come to my mind, at the 1948 Tour, first on top of the Izorad. Lifting up your dusty glasses and your three coloured cap,
you turned around to admire the void at your shoulders.
Your strenght, that a lot of people defined superhuman, has always been described. In this 18 July, day when we celebrated your birthday, I remember you in the way I have always lived you. After your wonderful career:
a peaceful and busy grandfather.
Always on the telephone, that rang loudly at every hour. At that time, that seems far, when mobiles did’nt exist. We have never talked a lot, but I rememeber many images of you. When we ate the plums picked directly on your terrace. To eat lots of them until you got indigestion! You walked speedly. Every afternoon you opened piles of correspondance without saying a word. You were there in that room, and you were not. Half of the time you were not at home, invited as a guest from one part of the world to the other; but when you were not in Florence with us, we could feel your absence as strong as your presence. It was the appeal of your strong personality. Your silences spoke.
Your sweet and sad looks, because of the wrinkles from your forehead leaned on your eyes,
composing a malinconic dent. You caressed my shoulders, as long as necessary. We greeted with a kiss on the cheeks. Your glance met mine for a fraction of second. My glance, instead, was all for you; curious, like the one of a little girl near her silent but good grandfather. We watched tv together, from the entertainment programmes to the Giro d’Italia. You hipnotically followed the actions of the cyclists in front to the screen. Sometime it seemed to me that your blue eyes
looked somewhere else, in an unknown world
through the tv, to which only you had access. Then I turned to you again and I see your eyes already closed in an afternoon nap. Your silence was calm. You were in the peace of a man aware to have given all that he had, all his resources. And to have received a lot from life: a lot of sorrow, a lot of success. I was a teenager. I studied a lot, and then I also went to a music school. I still did not have that curiosity, that astonishment that is born after reading your enterprises by bike.
How many things I would like to ask you, granddad, but not on the bycicle, but on life.
The beautiful thing is that, in spite of all, after all that we told each other and after a lot of silences, I still feel your presence profoundly, today. The man you were, and what you have done during your life, had a great impact and meaning for me. I feel you near during my days. You disgregated the falling of time. Without wanting it, you have become immortal. Wherever you are, thank you for all you have given me, for what you have given us, grandfather Gino.
Translated from the Italian by Eleonora Spada o.c.d.s.