IL PADRE DI DELIA
English version Italian version
The time to leave was getting closer. I had already told Edda that I was going to leave her my clothes, all the ones that she liked the most. I was going to America anyway.
I had never seen my father so sad and pensive as he was the day before my departure. At my age I could not understand why he wasn’t happy like I was. I was thinking about the big cities with many churches, big buildings and fountains.
Gardens and parks full of flowers where I could walk.
He was thinking about the family, about the village that he loved so much, about his friends and everything that was dear to him. He was worried about leaving my mother again as had happened during the war. After long years spent in concentration camps, he had come back to his family and was happy about it. Iole and Maria were born and they were the joy of the family. One day, a little before we left, I saw him looking out the window. He was just staring into space, I thought. Or maybe he was looking at the green forest where he had gone hunting many times.
He was looking at the mountains that he had climbed many times to get to the tops where the deer lived. He looked at the valley and saw Vico, the country house with the chickens which he loved watching them as they pecked at the the corn. He used to call them in with a whistle and they would come out of the under the hedges, and in from their nests scattered out in the fields and they would gather around him to eat everything he threw to them.
He turned his head and looked towards the old bell tower of
large fountain the “fontanone” from which fresh water was flowing continuously. He looked at the square with the big fountain that sprinkled water on the people passing by. He looked at the school that Iole and Maria attended. With very sad eyes he looked down at his feet and I can swear I saw a tear rolling down the cheek of his proud face. He went outside and looked for his dogs. As if they understood, they immediately came and rubbed up against his legs. When my father petted them, it was like the tender caress you give to a child and the dogs curled up at his feet.
He never realized that I was there in a corner and had seen everything. And I never told him. And that on that day long ago we left Naples. We left... Going up the ramp of the ship named Cristoforo Colombo he seemed bent, as if he was carrying an immense weight on his shoulders. I was sad but full of hope and was moved with lively steps. We crossed the vast ocean and landed in New York.
My mother did not take longt to write that she wanted to come to America too. She wanted to come to work, she said, and make money as she had heard that it was possible to do. In a short time, all the hopes my father had harbored of going back to the village disappeared. Dad had sacrificed everything that was dear to him, everything he loved, his adored Mammarosa, the peace and quiet of the small village. He sacrificed his entire life to “open the way for Delia” as my mother would say and as I had wanted. My father did not know how to say it , nor did I understand the immense love he had for me. I understood it only when the reality of immigration hit me as well and I realized the huge sacrifice he had made for me.
On the night he left us forever I had been by his bedside since the morning. I held his cold hand and was reading passages and verses that he loved so much. Iole and Maria were consoling my mother. I saw him fade away slowly, little by little. At 8:50pm, with a weak moan and a last breath, his soul left his body.
I loved the man he was and I jealously protect the memory of my father.