My grandma raised me. She was a young and energetic grandma. My grandpa was an ex-army and, as a general of the staff, quite an opinionated one. They had lived perennially on the move while he was serving office and apparently wandering around was something they couldn’t help doing, so they went on moving all over Italy also in their older years. As far as I remember, in the 4 or 5 years I spent with them when I was a child we lived in at least 3 different venues.
I had never understood my grandma very much until recently when I guess I found myself in a condition very similar to hers at the time: living as a housewife away from the place where I belong, with a 5 year old in tow. I realised it the other day: the kid was already fed and clean as a whistle in his striped pyjama watching a movie, the table was all set and I was in the kitchen trying to fix something decent for dinner cause I had people coming over… And I couldn’t help, I switched on the radio and started listening to Sebastiano Barisoni’s Focus Economia on Radio24 and commenting under my breath on what he was saying. And it came to me the picture of grandma doing precisely the same thing with her almost finished sigarette smoking abandoned in the ashtray while she kneaded the dough. I must have been the same age as the Almighty C..
Now, I can hardly think of two women more different from one another than me and my granny, and yet the image was so vivid and striking that I think I know for sure how she must have felt.
The truth is that being an expat housewife can make you feel lonely sometimes, but, above all, minding after people other than yourself – and therefore being a wife or a mother or however being responsible for someone else – just doesn’t leave you any time to think of your own business, so it’s nice to hear a grown up commenting on some news from your native country as long as you are up to a manual work and can’t dedicate yourself to anything else (even though the best option of course is to have a bottle of Prosecco as an aperitive to go with the cooking).
I got to the conclusion that my grandma was probably kind of fed up with her duties and possibly felt lonely and wanted somebody to speak with and wanted something different to happen in her life… Writing a post was not an option at the time… And after many years from her death I felt very close to her and thought that, at the end of the day, this human condition of ours is so basic and shared that there’s really no reason for not succeeding in being empathetic with one another.