“My mother was a woman who never complained.
My two younger brothers both died in their early forties. My father, the gentlest man you could ever hope to meet, died ten years later. But my mother never cried. She just got on with the business of living.
Our house was always full of people. Our door always open. My mother marching around, ensuring that everyone was fed, watered and happy.
She was a carabiniere. A force of nature. A real tough cookie.
When she was in her eighties she developed Alzheimer’s. She would go to the shop and repeatedly stockpile all the items necessary to run a household containing a husband, two strapping sons and a daughter. Me.
But she still had moments of lucidity.
One day she told me that she was leaving me. I looked at her blankly. But mamma, where are you going? I asked.
You know where I’m going. But you’ll be fine. You have a wonderful husband. A grown-up son. Two beautiful granddaughters. You’re not alone. And we’ve had many years together, many more than your brothers were able to have.
But they are all alone. Your brothers and your father. They need me. It’s time for me to go to them.
She just stopped eating. Eventually stopped drinking.
And I lost her.”
We both cried.
Then the storyteller wiped her eyes, and went back to hacking up frozen rabbit carcasses (in her bra – it was hot after all) to cook up and feed to her wonderful husband, her grown-up son and her two beautiful granddaughters. Oh, and me.
Me thinks that the carabiniere lives on…