He was born and raised in a tiny village in the middle of the mountains. The village, which is named after our family name, can only be reached by walking up a narrow and dangerous path in the mountains. Reason for which it has now been abandoned. He started working as a shepherd when he was a child and finished elementary school attending night classes because during the day he was taking the animals up the mountains with his dog. As he grew he tried other jobs: cutting trees, making flour our of chestnuts, making cheese… for most of these jobs he would have to walk for hours in the mountains to go to work and back.
Then he was called for the war (WW2). But his life as a soldier didn’t last long as he soon left the army to start fighting on the Partisan’s side. His Partisan’s name was Feather. He fought for the liberation of my country from the Nazis and the Fascists. I have heard sad stories but also really great ones. Such as grandpa’s dog surviving with just a small scratch after the Germans shot him thinking that it was used as a spy.
After the war there were no jobs so he migrated to Northern France to work in the coal mines. My aunt and dad were born while he was away. When he came back, he worked as a fishmonger, butcher, and finally managed to open a small groceries shop with my grandma.
Despite having only finished elementary school, my grandpa wrote stories. He started while I was away at university. He would write them and I would tidy them up for him. He then started writing articles about his years as a Partisan and about traditions in the mountains. He had his stories published in reviews of mountain culture. Recently an American writer wrote about my grandpa and his story, he described him as “a handsome gentleman with plenty of wavy white hair combed back, lively eyes, and a friendly smile”. I love the idea of people overseas reading about him.
At his funeral there were so many people: family, friends, three groups of Partisans with flags and formal clothing, historians, the groups of young people he taught to. It was so moving. One of the Partisans and my dad gave a wonderful speech on how he fought for freedom for us, how he wanted to look at the future and how we, the new generations, should learn from the past and never forget what people like my grandpa did for us. It was so touching.
We will miss him so much. But I find comfort in knowing that he is remembered with affection, esteem and love by so many people.