My godfather

I lost my godfather, today.

He died alone, in a pandemic time where his wife could not even hold his hand in the last hour.
I imagine his pale mask of pain, the hospital bed way too big for a man that didn’t eat in one month, his last prayers to a god that I wish I could believe in.

He was a good man, my godfather. The most decent man you can imagine. The only very catholic person that I ever liked.
He had a comforting smile, a quirky sense of humor, an antique soul.
He grew up in the house next to my father’s.

He had small sweet OCDs, my godfather.
When he was young, he used to go home before an evening out just to unfold his bed – so it was ready for him to jump in it later on.

He liked Jimi Hendrix, my godfather. He had the drums and a guitar. His moustache and glasses hovering on the sticks when he was playing. I never understood if he was any good.
But he liked old rock – that for him of course it was just his age rock, not old.
We had this album of Creedence Clearwater Revival and we used to laugh along with his sons because he totally looked alike one of the guys in the band. The bassist player if I remember correctly.

Every Sunday Easter he used to bring me a big Kinder chocolate egg. That bluish and orange foil is tangled up in my head for ever with his quiet smile.
I remember him ordering pizzas on Saturdays for dinner and the lazy lunches on Sundays. Us kids watching football, the adults tiding up the kitchen.

I remember the plants in his garden during spring evenings, the leaves of the one that he said “smelled like the taste of lemon candies”.
He was a funny man, my godfather.

I grew up with his two boys. I always felt comfortable with boys. We went to the stadium once, to see the football match. It was a long drive back home. We stopped at the service area on the highway and ate the leftovers of steaks that my grandpa gave us from lunch. We ate them cold and barehands, like if the steaks were raw victims of our hunger. We spent a lot of time together: my father, my godfather, his two boys and me. I always felt comfortable with boys.

The summer holidays were filled with the blinding sun and yells. My godmother always yelled at her boys. I used to think that if my mom had ever yelled at me that way I would have cried for days.
But they were just fine, it was their way to communicate.

I was way more private than his kids, I always misbehaved in silence. Especially as a teenager. And I was pierced by my godfather’s eyes when he used to catch me in one of my bad moments. Skipping school for days. With the wrongest boyfriends. Or smoking. He never said a word. All I saw was his sadness for the lost kid that I became.

When I was 16 we went to see Bob Dylan in concert. I was a weird looking girl, so the security guys at the entrance gates completely checked me out. Me and my decorative chains and all my pins and all my piercings. They confiscated the handcuffs from my bag and found a small box of condoms. My godfather’s eyes on me, full of reproach. My father’s gloomy look. We all pretended nothing happened, we took a panino at the zozzone’s and we never spoke about it again. He knew when to say nothing, my godfather. I still smell the fried onion of that panino mixed up with the smell of the sea coming from the harbour, the rusted voice of Dylan rasping on the microphone – covering up the face of my shame.

I lost my godfather, today.
Not even a last hug, not anymore that familiar smell of home baked cookies and mirto.
I feel a bit less protected in this world today.
We never talk enough with the people we like.
We move on with life, like if we could grab everything without giving anything back.
We always realise it when it’s too late.
We never learn.

I lost my godfather, today.


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