Letter from a grandfather on the first day of the new life
Brunello with his father Umberto and, on the right, a picture of his grandfather Fiorino
Solomeo, 11 June 2020
My dear grandchildren, as a grandfather I have always loved you, and never failed to seek your fondness; but due to my age-old coyness, in the early days I could not bring myself to speak to you except when you were asleep. I liked to imagine that my dreams - who knows for what kind of marvel - would tiptoe into yours, and speak directly to your nascent soul.
Today, with your lively naturalness you have been able to dispel this fear I harboured in my heart, and a constant and happy exchange was born out of it, perhaps the most comforting of all those I remember. Therefore, on this first day of the new life, it is precisely you I'd like to address when dwelling on my feelings. Like so many others, I too, despite the painful memory of many people who are no longer among us, have finally emerged from a stormy sea, and now from a safe beach I look back to my past with my soul still in turmoil.
It is to you, my little grandchildren, my fertile sprouts, that I would like to pass on the legacy of my thoughts and memories; today life smiles at you with every loving care. Unaware, you have gone through a bewilderment that has affected the whole world, and shaken it with something that has brought so much grief to humanity.
The extraordinary mind and genius of a man such as the great scientist Einstein spoke to us of difficult moments calling them blessings for mankind, as mankind draws from sorrow the genius of creativity and the strength of innovation. Homer's eternal poetry sang the deeds of ancient kings who, laying down their weapons and their sorrow, found the heart and strength to start a new life. Perhaps no other thought moved and convinced me so much, and I want to resume the path of life exactly from here. In this trust of the new life you will grow up and remember me, and one day you will come across this writing of mine, and it will become one of your dearest memories, it will be carved in your mind and in your soul, just as it was the case for me with my wise and beloved grandfather Fiorino, although not with his writings, but with his fleeting words. The great ideals will be born in your heart too, because it is from the depths of the generations that the sweetest and most useful fruits ripen.
Every day I ask of my father's land that it gives me what it gave me in my youth, the benefit of what seems more and more fascinating and extraordinary with the passing of time: the blond ears of wheat, the fragrant fruits, the pressed olives, the glittering of the plough, the buzzing of the bees, the eternal shade of the centuries-old oaks; such memories elevate my soul, and have taught me to carry fundamental feelings into a higher and more noble order.
My beloved ones, in this writing you will find the loving and at the same time mild encouragement to be constantly aware of the absolute value of human dignity and the subsequent respect we owe to each individual, always and without exception. You will find that desires are only fair when they match the right needs, you will understand that we must distance ourselves from any wealth that is not earned with honesty, and that wealth itself is nothing if it is not also for others. You will know how important the harmony of the universe is: it is indispensable to every living being because it has only one substance and one soul.
My heart trembles in the hope that you will be courageous and lovable, sincere and frugal, attentive towards your neighbour with a hospitable heart, industrious and creative. I know that one day or the other you will go in search of the anxieties of distant times, like those we have just left behind us; and after so many years you will ask yourselves why, and you will learn from them that every pain can also be a gift.
I would like the few lines of this letter to reach not only you but all the children born today in every part of the world, almost as a spiritual and augural testament left as a gift to the humanity of tomorrow; I trust that Creation will grant me to be still close to you for a long time, but should I no longer be able to convey my feelings and fondness to you with the living word, here is what I have learned to regard as the consistent origin and strength of every noble thought and every virtuous action: Creation and all that is part of it must always be loved and cherished.
Vogue Italia - June 2020