Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Painting for Nonno G

Nonno G likes his bike, his vegetables and his allotment.

I started drawing this painting of an old guy A snapped in Monza in the park with his bike, but as I painted I thought more and more of Nonno G. So in a way this painting has become a tribute, if you will, to him and if you can dedicate paintings like films i would dedicate it to Nonno G.

Truth is, Nonno G isn't doing so well. For some time now he's had brain cancer. He was still out biking to the allotment but recently his lack of motor capacity has kept him in bed.

We've been going to visit him, we sit in there and ask him a few questions and try and answer them for him. He can't really talk any more other than 'si' or 'no' so whatever small talk I had is fairly useless. His dialect was always difficult to understand and it hasn't got any easier.

This time I complimented him on his shiny new hospital bed in the dining room, with it's clever raising and lowering mechanisms.
Turns out I'm not the only one to admire it. Sophia, his Granddaughter, has also got her covetous eye on it.

 "When you die Grandad can I have your bed?"

Sophia is six.

Where would he be without his women? His family are taking great care of him. His daughter is round with the three grand-kids all the time. Granddaughter II (Elena) is a comfort to him. She's always cuddling him and trying to help and making him eat. Since he has been declared terminally ill he's been very depressed and so it's great to see him smile with her.

Nonna B's got a great sense of humour and  incredible strength, literally and figuratively. She's a woman of a different world, you can see she's as tough as old boots and no stranger to hard work. She's also uncompromisingly straightforward and realistic.

Example 1) "Laura, sei ingrassata, ti sta bene."
Example 3) When Zio (uncle) had his book launch he brought back the floral table centre piece for Nonna. Unfortunately it looked a bit like something you would lay on top of a coffin. She chuckled and said she would go and put it at the head of Grandad's bed. We laughed nervously, in a "well you said it first" kind of way.

Aunty R hasn't stopped teasing him either. He kissed A's hand good bye the other day as he couldn't kiss his cheeks and Aunty R was laughing at him for pretending to be the Godfather. Poor chap. We said "see you next week" and he waved at Aunty R dramatically.

 "He wants to say 'he'll see you again if the great lord doesn't open the gates of heaven before then,'" she said with such a funny tone that even that was a lighter moment in a sad situation.

When Nonna B and Nonno G got married they were so poor that the car in the wedding photograph that they are posing with isn't even theirs. They grew up in Veneto and so Nonna B is an expert in cooking "poor people's food" as she calls it. (Nonna B was talking about feeding Germans polenta the other day while she did their washing. In my naivety I thought she meant tourists!) They often marvel to me that nowadays you can eat this kind of food in fancy restaurants. They emigrated from Veneto to Piedmont in search of work in the fields and for eventually for FIAT. They managed to get enough money and stability so that two generations on A. is the first of the family to get university educated.

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Please send them a little love. I'm sure it will be appreciated even from afar.


Kim said...

What a wonderful piece and what a wonderful idea. I feel I will become a fan of this beautiful blog!

Laruchka said...

Thank you for your very kind comment!