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Grandma Ida.

July 28, 2009

Grandma Ida passed away a few days ago. She was 89, born in 1919. I’ve always considered her my grandma even though she’s my friend Sergio’s grandma. Unfortunately, I never met any of my grandparents: my mom’s parents died in 1929, when my mom was only two, and my dad’s father died before my father was even born. Only my dad’s mom survived till the 70’s, but I never met her. So back to Ida. Ida was a force of nature. She was raised on some pastures of Val Codera in the Alps called Arnasca. A tough life, shoeless, raised by a mean uncle. Ida was in her natural element when in those pastures above 2000 meters of elevation. She romanticized that lifestyle, living under a rock with no electricity nor running water. By marriage, with grandpa Benito, she moved over one valley, to Val dei Ratti and the pastures called Talamucca, which are separated from Arnasca by a thin rocky ridge. It takes 4 to 6 hours to hike up to these pastures and Ida made that effort several times in her eighties, the last time being when she was 84. Sergio went to Talamucca to help Ida at a very early age, 6 I think, and I joined him a few years later. Ida was running the whole enterprise: she had cows (40 or 50) and goats (hundreds), then pigs, chickens, rabbits, dogs etc…Although skeptical about my usefulness she took me along and my first memories are of a day spent by the fire, with the task of not letting it die, while Sergio and his brother Marco and Ida were out and about in the rain, hale, lightning etc…On beautiful days, Ida would put her “scussarin” on, a sort of apron with very large front pockets, and would spend hours picking a special type of flower similar to a daisy, called “iva”. By the end of the summer she would have collected and sun-dried kilos of iva that was then sold. Ida was happiest when she could run off to pick iva. In such occasions she would wear a large smile and become philosophical. Later in life she became deaf and her mood soured. Her outburst of anger became legendary for Sergio and I. But wait long enough and her soft side would reemerge, especially if you started talking about Talamucca. She was not tall, but there was no job that she couldn’t tackle. In the spring she would run around carrying heavy loads of manure on her shoulders, that she would then dump on the fields of Frasnedo (the village half-way up the valley), and that she would then hit with a pitchfork until it was all evenly distributed. In the summer she’d be running around with heavy loads of hay on her shoulder, or maybe wheels of cheese, or a lamb. The first time my father saw her, in the 70’s, she was loading large bags of sand (70 or 80 kilos) onto the back of a mule that was maybe twice as tall as her. I spent a lot of time with Ida, helping her, hiking up to Talamucca with her, and she was always very sweet to me. She was my grandma.

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