The Secret Lives of Diaries

Nonna Vidotto

Posted in Characters by secretlives on March 22, 2006

Nonna Vidotto - thumbnail.jpg


It is July 2, 1971, I have just graduated from university and am on a hitch hike tour through Europe.  Italy, the land of my birth, is my first stop.  I am visiting my paternal grandmother who lives in one of the state retirement homes.  She is in her eighties; a practical woman who has lived through two world wars, a depression and the ongoing transformation of Euorpe.  I am about to leave Oderzo, the small town in which I was born, and I have come to say goodbye.  I sense this will be the last time I see her.


July 2, 1971

My grandmother Vidotto belongs to a world so different from mine.  Her logic is so simple; she is so jovial and merry, for she knows few things.  She cannot read or write; when she signs documents her signature is an “X”.  She doesn’t even know how old she is.

She is very devoted to the traditional Christian concepts of God and Jesus Christ, and the duties which we must perfrom in order to appease him.  Her God is a paternal one, a great bearded figure who loves you when you attend church and the sacraments; who hates you and is angry with you when you fail to do the above.

On one occasion I went to se her in a pair of white tennis shorts.  She told me, seeing that goose-bumps were appearing on my legs, that she would give me a pair of pants she had stored in the bottom of a trunk.  She returned with a pair of 1920’s, long white pants which I accepted graciously.  I told her I would try them on the lawn over my short pants.  “No, no!”, She said, “someone might see you.”  To her it did not matter whether I was already wearing a pair of pants which hid my nakedness.  The sole act of dressing was, to her, a private affair which you performed alone.


I remember that she had cautioned me to be careful about returning to Canada by boat because “if you die, they cast you into the sea.”  Before I left her she went into her room and gave me about 100,000 Lire – which was a great deal to her.  When I graciously objected, she insisted because she was convinced that those who ran the home would plunder her belongings when she died.  I didn’t understand her urgency that day until I returned to Canada a few months later and she died.

Name: Giovanni
Age: 56 


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