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MICHELE MENDAGLIO

(English Version Below)

Mio nonno, Michele Mendaglio, e` morto tanti anni fa, ma come altre persone meravigliose che sono vissute nel nostro paese, si merita di essere ricordato per la sua onesta` e la sua grande bonta`.

Michele nacque a Capistrano penso il 1900, da Filippo Mendaglio e Concetta Lo Moro. Ebbe un fratello e due sorelle (Domenico, Nicolina e Teresa). Sposo` Palma Tucci, un’altra capistranese, conosciuta ed apprezzata come donna forte, coraggiosa e grandemente dedicata alla sua famiglia.

Fin da giovane, Michele, una persona molto religiosa, dimostro` serieta`, dedicazione al lavoro e tanta bonta`, non soltanto verso i suoi, ma anche verso gli altri.

Mio nonno diede un grande esempio ai suoi figli, Filippo, Rocco, Domenico, Teresa e Maria e poi ai suoi nipoti ai quali, fin da piccoli, insegnava l’importanza dell’amore verso Dio ed il prossimo.

Da piccolo, quando andavo a confessarmi da Don Nicolino Manfrida, il parroco del paese, egli concludeva delle volte dicendomi, “Cerca di essere come tuo nonno Michele.”

Sapevo che mio nonno era una persona molto buona, ma non riusci` a capire quanto fin quando un giorno un mio zio mi racconto` un avvenimento che era accaduto tanti anni fa.

Mio nonno possedeva il fondo, “U Mulinu Viacchiu”, nella valle della “Rineja”. Sia lui che mia nonna erano riusciti a trasformare la loro campagna in un vero paradiso. A parte i tanti alberi d’ulivo e le rigogliose vigne, li cresceva anche frutta di tipi diversi, e giu` in valle, vicino al fiume, crescevano tipi diversi di verdure.

Era il tempo della fame, ma non per i Mendaglio, che, anche se non ricchi, avevano sempre a sufficienza per sfamare la famiglia. Ma cio` non era la realta` per altri disperati nel paese che a malapena risuscivano a sfamare i loro tanti figli. Uno di questi disperati un giorno si decise di andare a rubare verdura nella proprieta` di mio nonno.

Non so quante volte cio` si ripetette, ma mio zio mi disse che i suoi due fratelli si adirarono e una notte, senza che il padre sapesse nulla,  si decisero di nascondersi e di attendere il ladro col fucile in mano.

Non so quanto dovettero attendere, ma infine il ladro sbuco` dal buio ed incomincio` a riempire un sacco con verdure. I miei zii aspettarono che il sacco fosse pieno, o quasi, e tutt’a un tratto uscirono dal loro nascondiglio, puntarono il fucile verso il ladro e gli dissero di mettere giu` il sacco senza esitare.

Il ladro, terrorizzato, disse loro di non sparare, butto` subito il sacco per terra e si mise a supplicarli di non dir niente al loro padre. I miei zii lo lasciarono andare, ma senza verdure,  poi presero il sacco e subito andarono a casa per raccontare il fatto al loro padre, il che fecero con fierezza, sperando di ricevere qualche lode.

Mio nonno non solo non li lodo` ma si adiro` verso tutt’e due. Poi disse loro, “Chi vi ha detto di fare questo? Perche` avete preso il sacco con la verdura? Non sapete che se ha fatto questo l’ha fatto per sfamare i figli? Datemi il sacco!”

I miei zii, totalmente sbigottiti, gli diedero il sacco con la verdura e mio nonno ando` subito a casa del ladro, non per accusarlo ma per dargli la verdura per sfamare i suoi figli. Il ladro e la sua famiglia rimasero a bocca aperta. I miei zii rimasero fortemente colpiti da cio` che stava facendo loro padre e mai lo dimenticarono. 

Mia zia, mi ha inoltre raccontato che quando operai andavano quotidianamente a costruire le briglie alle rineje, mio nonno prima che ritornassero a casa la sera metteva fichi d'India nel fiume per reffreddarle e quando gli operai passavano da li glieli apriva col coltello e glieli serviva per ristorarli.

Queste storie che i miei zii mi raccontarono mi fecero capire perche` Don Nicolino mi incitava ad essere come mio nonno.

Per anni, persone che conoscevano mio nonno mi ricordavano che “Cumpara Michiali era nu santu”. Lo fanno tutt’ora, sia i suoi figli che le sue nuore.

Mio nonno non era un nobile, ma era nobile di cuore. Mio nonno non era istruito, ma la sua bonta` e la sua dignita` gli davano  cio` che le lauree o i diplomi non possono dare.

Mio nonno fu amato dalla moglie ed adorato dai figli. Mio nonno e` tutt’ora adorato da me, suo nipote. Io ebbi il grande onore di averlo vicino  fino all’eta` di circa dieci anni quando scomparve a causa di un terribile cancro nella schiena. I suoi ultimi anni furono molto duri a causa del terribile male, ma lui affronto` anche le sue ultime, grandi sofferenze con grande dignita` e coraggio.

Michele Mendaglio si spense circondato da tanti amorevoli amici e parenti. Prima di morire bacio` la mano di mia nonna per comunicarle quanto l’amava e quanto l'apprezzava.

Questo era il mio meraviglioso nonno Michele; senza dubbio, un vero “Angelo Capistranese.”

Un nipote di Michele Mendaglio


MICHELE MENDAGLIO (ENGLISH)

 My grandfather, Michele Mendaglio, died many years ago, but like so many other wonderful people who lived in our town, he also deserves to be remembered for his integrity and his amazing kindness.

Michele was born in Capistrano around 1900. His father was Filippo Mendaglio and his mother was Concetta Lo Moro. He had three siblings: Domenico, Nicolina, and Teresa. He married another capistranese, Palma Tucci, who was known and appreciated as a strong and courageous women who was totally committed to her family.

Michele was a very religious, hard-working and very kind man. He was an amazing example toward his children and grandchildren to whom he taught love toward God and love toward their neighbour.

As a child, when I would go for confession, the priest, Don Nicolino Manfrida, would at times conclude by saying to me, " Just be like your grandfather."

I knew that my grandfather was a very good man, but I did not have a clear idea of how good he really was until my uncle told me a story that took place many years ago.

My grandfather owned a big farm located on the side and at the bottom of a valley near our town. He and my grandmother, through much hard work, transformed the land into a garden of Eden. On the farm one could find, not only olive groves and luscious vineyards, but also many fruit trees. At the bottom of the valley, near the river, they had a vegetable garden where they grew all sorts of vegetables.

It was a time of want and many people went hungry, but not the Mendaglio family. They were definitely not rich, but they always had plenty to feed their five children with. This was not the case for some other people in town who struggled to feed their large families. One of these poor people one night decided to go to my grandparents’ land and steal vegetable from their garden.

I do  not know how many times he went back to take vegetables, but my uncle told me that finally two of my uncles became very angry and one night, without telling my grandfather, they went to the vegetable garden, hid somewhere and waited patiently for the thief to arrive. The oldest uncle had a hunting rifle with him.

I do not know how long they waited but, finally, the thief appeared and started collecting vegetables and placed them in a sack. My uncles waited until the sack was full or mostly full and then they came out of hiding, pointed the rifle at the startled thief and asked him to put the vegetables down, if he cared for his life. The terrified man did so immediately and begged them not to shoot. He then, surprisingly, proceeded to beg them not to tell their father about his deed.

My uncles let the man go and then went home proud of their accomplishment and eager to share the story with their father, expecting much praise. But my grandfather did not praise them; in fact he rebuked them for what they had done and added, " Don't you understand that if the man went to steal it's because his children are hungry and that he is simply trying to feed them?" He then asked them to give him the sack .

My shocked uncles gave him the sack and watched him leave the house with it. My grandfather went to the thief's house and gave him the vegetables. My uncles were left in disbelief  by their father’s reaction. They never forgot the event.

My aunt Maria recently told me that when workers were doing government work just past his farm. Every day,  just before they would leave to go home, he would place prickly pears in the river to cool them down and then, as the workers passed by on their way home, he would open the delicious, cold fruit with his knife and would give them to them to be refreshed.

These and other stories made me understand why the priest would tell me to be like my grandfather. He was  the closest thing to a saint.

Even  many years after his death people in town who remembered him would tell me that my grandfather, "was a saint." His children and daughters in law say the same thing to this day.

My grandfather was not  a nobleman, but he had a noble heart. He was not highly educated, but he offered others that which education can never give: a very, loving heart.

My grandfather was loved by his wife and was adored by his children. I, his grandson, adore his as well. I had the honor of being  around him and of being taught by him the first ten years of my life. I treasure my memories with him but, most of all, I treasure his example.

In the early sixties my grandfather was taken away from us by cancer in his spine. He suffered much, but even in his great suffering my grandfather dealt with it all with dignity and much courage.

This was my grandfather; a very special, honest, and very kind man who must not be forgotten and who's example deserves to be followed by all.

Michele's grandson

 
 
 

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