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  • When I was a little girl, I had two grandfathers. Both of them were called "Pappa" in their respective families, so to differentiate I called them "Big Pappa" and "Little Pappa".

    The Little Pappa was my mom's father. I don't think he was any shorter than my dad's father Big Pappa, who maybe just seemed bigger as he was more remote and a bit stern.

    My Little Pappa was a story teller. He told me stories about his own life, as a little boy and as a young man, and to me it seemed he had lived a magical life. He was one of those people who could get a tune out of anything he laid his hands on, from a comb, mouth accordion, mandoline... anything. I understood only much later that it was not just cool but also sad that he had played on the streets asking for money. He used to tell the people "I am just a little player boy with no home to go to".

    He would take off his false teeth, put a scarf on his head and play a witch for me. I laughed until I wheezed and hiccuped. He played his mandoline for me and sometimes we sang together. He told me of his adventures travelling around the country in trains, playing cards. I think he really worked in a factory his whole life.

    He cooked for me, he played cards with me, he argued with me and he laughed with me. We had both a similar temper, and sometimes we disagreed passionately. When he shaved himself a very short buzz cut he said it was just for a change. He went to the hospital, just for a check up he said, and then he was dead. He had lung cancer and nobody had told me, I guess you did not tell children things like that then.

    I was very angry for a while, to him and to others for not telling me. But I guess he wanted to keep telling me stories until the end, to continue making life magical when reality wasn't.
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