I want to be like him

The mythic figures of today are multi-millionaire footballers, beautiful showgirls, manufacturers who are more crafty than capable, but I have always been drawn to my maternal grandfather: Grandpa Sandro. He had nothing to do with wine, and he was not a Rivetto, but he has always served as an example for me, he was in fact an excellent carpenter and unfortunately died when I was just four years old. My grandmother, who just turned ninety three, and others who knew him tell me that I resemble him in my walk, in the way I pose for photographs, in being set in my ways, my build, and my hair. He was a person who loved to joke, but not with everyone, and his war stories, told to me by my grandmother, have always fascinated me.

He left for the African war and fought in Ethiopia for three years, becoming sick with typhoid fever and then healing (so he said) by consuming litres of an unknown highly
alcoholic beverage. He returned home for a few months only to leave again, this time for the terrible Russian campaign, straight to Stalingrad. Thank heavens he never arrived. He was able to escape on a pair of skis that he made himself, through the icy-cold Russian snow.

During the Fascist era he built a one-man rudimentary wooden airplane which he tried to fly although not very successfully. When I go to pay a visit at the cemetery, I look at his photo and it seems to me that he smiles at me, I feel like he helps me and protects me.

My earliest memories are tied to him; I remember a wooden top that he made that accidentally hit me on the forehead and the “famous” tokens for the old phone booths that, according to him, would make a call to Ethiopia if inserted from the side with two grooves
or Italy from the side with one groove… :)

In times of difficulty, I want to be like him strong and tenacious, but always humble, characteristics that made him silently fascinating.