You passed on a Saturday, as your favorite cousin did, and, just like her, you had your funeral on a Monday afternoon. Like her, you said goodbye after a short but cruel illness, sorrounded by the love of your family.

You have been a cumbersome and sometimes overwhleming presence in my life. My need for independence constantly clashed with your call to order, to respect tradition and “normality.” You have to get a degree, look for a good job and marry a man who has a good social position, you always used to tell me. Needless to say, I achieved the goals I wanted in the order I wanted. Most of the times, I just did the exact opposite of what you said, just so as not to agree with you and confirm once again my innate sense of independence.

Most of the inhabitants of this town surely cannot forget all the children’s songs that you taught when you were a primary school teacher. As soon as you were given the opportunity, you would string together all the verses of “The birdie song” without forgetting the dance, of course. When you were already very ill, my friend Francesca managed to make you sing “The Silly Duckling” of which you remembered every word and when you were lying in bed, in your last hours of life, you repeated non-stop a lullaby that you used to sing to us when we were little. It is incredible how the essence of a person accompanies them until their last breath. With you I have truly understood the expression “a leopard can’t change its spots.”

Your nature was so well defined that by just repeating one of the phrases you used to say, everyone in the village would immediately think of you. The nuns at the boarding school in Rapallo gave you an excellent education that allowed you to say things that were almost incomprehensible to most people: “The sky is leaden,” “the centre of the town is a maze of small streets,” “today the “The sun is so bright and dazzling today” and my favorite, that you always told my brother-in-law “Alexio, today I prepare a gargantuan lunch for you.” My poor brother-in-law was always stunned by your sophisticated phrases and used to say that you spoke like Shakespeare…

If you didn’t like something or thought that an injustice was being committed, you weren’t afraid to confront anyone: to defend a student from an undeserved bad grade, you even told the town priest off.

Despite your conservative and traditionalist attitude, you have managed to change the job environment for all women by becoming a customs officer. In the early ’60s you sat for some exams in Genoa with a friend, without knowing that, until then, no woman had ever applied for that position. Your partner, seeing a room full of men, immediately went home, overwhelmed by the situation. You, on the other hand, didn’t lose your temper: you would have never given up a permanent job because of such s silly reason! No need to say that you passed the exams and ended up in all the newspapers with huge headlines and photos of you on the streets of our village with your hair in a flipped bob: “A young teacher from Riomaggiore is the first woman employed by customs”. At first, most of our neighbours were frightened because they thought that you had committed a crime and had ended up in jail.

Perhaps I should have written this tribute a year ago and should have read it at your funeral, you would have surely liked to be remembered this way. Unfortunately, reading in front of so many people is not my thing, fear would have paralized me. The important thing is that not a day goes by in which we do not talk like you and about you, you have permeated every cell of this family and you will remain there, forever. I hope this makes you happy, mom.

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