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  • My uncle Cornelio was in the first moments of his life, in the middle of February of 1944, resting in the arms of my grandma Josephina. He was the first boy after a collection of girls and would surely become the first man to support granddad in the conduction of the still growing Italian family. A baby in warm nest of revelations.

    A familiar but from a long time unheard voice started to speak in the dark of the bedroom. It was granddad’s mother, Angelina. But she should be hundreds of kilometers far from there and didn’t even know that a newborn was about to come! In a rural outback of Brazil at the 1940s the communication mechanisms were quite poor and as slow as in the early 1900. But no, a few weeks would be enough to make another person learn of any news… when there’s love to make it.

    The matter was another - the vehicle to make Angeline reach her daughter-in-law was regret. Grand-grandma Angelina, mother of my granddad Albino, was a Italian lady who came to Brazil and reached a prosperous life with her husband. But she decided to privilege her daughters and didn’t give support to her son when he had to marry Josephina, my grandma. “Pina” was a runaway daughter of a rich man who was well known for his cruelties and menaces of death against his children.

    Once Pina had to run from home with other brothers after her father had a nervous outbreak with an ax in hands, she had to wander for a time from house to house, among friend families who could help. She and granddad fell in love but when the marriage came, Angelina said “no marriage portion, no help for the new family. I have my own daughters to marry well”. So they began from the zero point, and that sad feeling of lack of support, until they left their homeland to have a new life far from the old home ground.

    A stroke in Pina’s chest restrained her to breath, speak or move in direction of Angelina’s voice. Pina opened the eyes, and could only see a light and hear a voice begging for pardon, asking for help with prayers and telling her to take care of the children. Grandma Pina accepted that coming until the voice ended with the light than she could breath and call my granddad.

    “You mother visited me, Albino!”, she said to her husband. “I was resting and her voice came to me in a hit of light to beg our pardon. I think she passed away”. As granddad alleged not to have had news about her death, grandma proposed to count the days until news from the relatives come.

    Eight days after that stroke, a letter sent a week earlier arrived to my grandparents telling about the death of granddad’s mother.

    Cornelio my uncle had almost become himself a Catholic priest when grandma Pina told me this story. I thought it was all so phantasmagoric and didn’t get the dimension of Angelina’s request. Her asking for prayers and for grandma Pina to take care of her children makes me think of the generation we became, seeds of that and other trees covered with hard knots of unsolved words silencing the chest in hard strokes sometimes.

    For whom the bell tolls? For me! To pray for Angelina and for my relatives left in the past is to pray for myself right now.

    (Photo from the Church of Sacred Heart of Suffrage “The Museum of Purgatory”. The picture is by the soul of Abbot Panzini, registered in fire on a piece of wood at Novermber, 1st, 1731)
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