This is the story of the man who saved me without knowing. There is a bond so strong between us even though he left this life long before I was born. His name was Damiano Vito Nesci. This is the story of my beloved grandfather, my guardian angel.
He was born in the early 1930’s in Monterosso, in the region of Calabria, a beautiful mountain village in southern Italy. He made his way out of the bad financial situation he was in and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina with his brothers when he was 16 years old. They stayed at their uncle’s house, until they purchased a piece of land in what was the countryside. Today is the most exclusive residential area of Buenos Aires.
Damiano was very tall and slim. He had dark greasy hair and deep black eyes, which I inherited. He was a hard working Italian man that did not stop fighting for his dreams for a second. He walked with his shoulders down and eyes on the floor, not because he lacked self-confidence, but rather consumed by his own thoughts. He worried too much. His main motivation was to give his family everything he never had. He had big feet and an honest, simple smile. He wore white undershirts, black or khaki pants, and tweed jackets when it was cold. My grandfather loved to take pictures. He was interested in everything and read all the books he could. He was a cultured man even though he never went to school.
Damiano was the owner of a wonderful handwriting and privileged capacity to transmit ideas. He enjoyed being alone and quieting sometimes, since his wife always complained too much. However his greatest weakness was women, he couldn’t deny it, as a good Italian man he was always chasing them. He had many projects, many goals to reach. He visualized them and had a clear idea of what he wanted. His biggest dream was to own a house and built it with his own hands. He put every red little tile on the stairs I used to walk on every day. He didn’t know that the house was going to be for me one day. He had strong convictions, he always choose the right thing to do.
My grandpa was a very good friend and many times he gave away money knowing he wasn’t going to get it back. My grandfather was a strong man. His greatest love was his motorcycle, a black Gilera brand. He cared about it more than anything; the only exception was his son. My father was his whole world and would have done anything for him. He worked hard to assure that his son was going to be ok when he was gone. Without knowing he did it for me too, he was our savior. Damiano had three jobs, he worked as a maintenance person in the local horse’s racetrack, his second job work was fixing bikes and during the weekends he worked with a neighbor painting houses.
One really cold and foggy morning on July 1969, he was riding his bike to work around 6 am, like he always used to. I guess he was dealing with a lot of stress on his mind. His marriage wasn’t working and he didn’t want to leave his son. He was tired of working so hard, but it was never enough. He was consumed by worries and thoughts. That morning a truck got on his way, and he didn’t see it until it was too late.
He spent three days in the hospital, where his jar was tied with wire, he couldn’t talk. He made clear that he didn’t want his son to see him like that. He died being mad, he was mad for leaving his family alone. My grandpa felt guilty for abandoning my dad at such a young age. When I pray I tell him that it wasn’t his fault, it was his destiny. Many years separate the day he died with the day I was born, but there is no words that can explain his presence in my life. My grandma said that I am just like him, so I know him by knowing myself. My grandfather lives in me.