In front of me is the Maltese sea, but Facebook memories bring back this photo to me.
For me, it holds significant meaning for many reasons.
The first is that I miss Padua so much, I have to admit, especially when I think of the colours of the Prato in autumn.
The second reason is that (as those who know me well know) I forget dates in real-time, even important ones: anniversaries, friends’ birthdays, numbers of any kind, and even the years in which things happen (I have to look inside my wedding ring to know that I got married in 2004). So, thank you for reminding me how many years have passed.
This long preamble is to introduce the third, and truly essential, reason for the nostalgia that overwhelms me when I see this photo: I consider it a tangible sign of the love that an important person had for me.
I bought this bicycle with a tiny and precious inheritance from the only person who truly loved me unconditionally, selflessly, and freely.
Let it not bother the people who love me and whom I love enthusiastically. But love is almost always “conditioned” by many, many, many other feelings.
With her, there were no demands, blackmail, or limitations.
She loved me no matter what I did, even though she didn’t understand my choices. She waited for me when I made mistakes and when I ran away. She loved me in the snippets of time I dedicated to her and in the difficult moments when she suffered with me.
I loved her so much, I feel her presence every day, and I am sure that if I am capable of truly loving, it is because of her.
She would have died of worry knowing me “alone in a foreign country,” and she would have accompanied me with daily prayers without trying to stop me. And today, here, I have nothing to fear because she protects me.
I smile inwardly thinking about her anxieties, the worry about the red lights on standby, her reserved demeanour as an elderly lady, her extreme discretion, her vast and intelligent knowledge never displayed, the stories of St. George and the dragon, the afternoons on her lap savouring the beauty of the classics.
I sing in her name: she knew the operas by heart, but she was so tone-deaf that the melodies couldn’t be recognized; and then she would ask me, “How do you manage to sing like that?”
Every cup of coffee is thought for her.
I hang the laundry as she did, with underwear modestly hidden behind a curtain of towels.
I constantly turn her ring on my finger, as she did.
Her blue eyes smile at me from the mirror, the only ones in the family.
I won’t mention her name because she wouldn’t like to be mentioned in a “public” place: she never wanted to be anything other than a small, soft library mouse in her home, with her calm affections, her pure and absolute faith, and her coffee machine.