Well, if I were to answer this question in terms of ‘who were my grandparents’ last month I found out more about my paternal grandfather, born in 1915 and died in 1985.
His brother’s son, Ciro (my father’s cousin) came over to London with his wife and as we sat and caught-up, I thought I would ask him some questions about his uncle, my grandfather. My father had told me a long time ago that his father (my grandfather) was adopted by Ciro’s parents.
‘So,’ I asked my uncle Ciro, ‘why did your parents adopt my grandfather?’
‘Well,’ began my uncle, ‘my grandparents met when they were older than most other couples at the time, so they stopped at two children, my father and his sister. My grandfather had a fishing business and needed help with it. One son alone was not enough. So they they decided to adopt a boy from the local orphanage. That would solve two problems with one stone! My father could run his fishing business and an orphan could have a family and place to call ‘home’.’
That orphan was my grandfather. I was fascinated to know the reasoning behind it. My uncle Ciro went on to say that when the boys grew up (his father and my father’s father) and had families of their own, the families remained close. My father and his siblings called Ciro and his siblings – cousins. But then my father’s family moved to another part of the country.
My uncle Ciro continued, ‘I recall my father urging us to write to our cousins and your grandfather. Whenever we received letters back from your grandfather they always began with, ‘I write from my pen and not my heart…’.’
I was enthralled by this anecdote, and thanked my uncle. It got me wondering, perhaps when duty bounds me to write another email or text message, I’ll also begin this way, ‘I write from my touchscreen and not from my heart…’ with a wry smile as an expression, while thinking of my long departed ancestor.
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My lovely Uncle Ciro and Zia Sara…