What fascism did to me

Someone asked me the other day, I don’t know, I was going on about my family or something other, what WWII did to us.

That was a tough question for me to answer. You see, my grandfather and my great grandparents grew up in fascist Italy, or say, they lived during that time. My father was born in 1955. Nine years after WWII ended, but the remnants of that period would reverberate for generations within my own family.

I really get angry at this latest trend by those on the left to label everything they disagree with as fascism. It’s irresponsible, and it is wrong. They have no clue, what that time did to so many. What that time did to my family. What it did to me.

For me fascism is about never being able to speak your mind. About never being properly educated. About poverty, and not the kind where you can be obese, too. Many of you have no idea what it was like to grow up properly poor.

In 1965 my father contracted TB, and so did his father, my grandfather, and my dad recovered, but my grandfather died. At that time, my grandmother was incapable of raising my father, she was a selfish woman, and so, in years time, my father would marry someone similar, my mother. He was devoted to both of them, but they were never capable of giving him what he truly needed. Love. It’s so silly for me to say this, an outsider looking in. But the truth is, his great grandparents raised him, and he loved them dearly.

I was lucky enough to meet them both when I was 4. When I was 10, years after my great grandmother died, I reconnected with my great grandfather. He was a lovely man, so joyous. I remember, I have a picture of him sneaking out when me and my brothers were unaware, to grab us some popcorn during an evening street festival. I remember the lights, the lights were so effervescent. It was not me who snapped that photo, but my father, who knew how little time he had left with the man who raised him. I wish I had that photo on me now. My great grandfather was a wonderful human being.

They lived through the most atrocious of times, and could still smile. My great grandfather, embellishing, told me how, when he fought in both world wars, he escaped several boats that had been bombed by the enemy. For Italy, the enemy could have been both sides, as they were turncoats. I did not ask, because I was too young to know to do so.

Italy after both wars was hard. My dad felt it, and he never truly recovered. It hardened so many men and women and made them afraid, and not only that, being that my family was stricken with poverty, it made them desperate. My father never received an education, his family could not afford the books. It made him insecure around WASPs when he moved to Canada, and they made sure to make him feel that way. He was not wanted.

What I remember most about my dad was how much he read. But it wasn’t only that. It was what he read. He loved history books, anything about WWII sufficed. He truly wanted to know what his family went through. He needed it, it shaped them all. It shaped me. I wanted to write that he was a true scholar, but I didn’t, even though he was.

I’ve been surrounded by WASPs so long, those who think they are an authority on every subject, know-it-alls, who know nothing. I think my dad, humble as he is, knows so much about that time, but to speak of it, is painful, so he doesn’t. He keeps it all inside. It fuels him in a way.

You dream of what your life will be, and then, well, forces beyond your control come up, and disrupt everything. You are humiliated, embarrassed. You’re forced to do things you never thought possible.

My father experienced a lot of abuse. And he paid his children the same treatment he received. And so, I did as well; To those I loved dearly. It was learnt pain. And it was experienced pain. I can be cold, and my tongue is vicious. I can be hard, and terrible. I’m so afraid of being made a fool. I make myself one a lot.

When I was 10 my family took me on a walk in an Italian town and when we came across an abandoned house they told me that my great uncle died in that house. He was thrown, by Nazis, they said, down a flight of stairs to his death. I was 10. But for them, it was natural to say such things to children, for at the time such atrocities happened. They heard those stories, and so they passed them on.

It was boarded up, and there were old trees, I’m not sure what kind, surrounding it. I think sometimes to be a good writer I should make up what trees they were, but, they were trees to a 10 year old.

You know, I am not completely sure what I want to convey here. In a time, in Canada, where so many have to invent their troubles, my family had truly remarkable ones, real ones.

And so now we see that again in Ukraine. I’m afraid to talk about that. It’s politicized amongst so many now.

WWII changed my family forever, and it still impacts all of us. My brothers, their children.

But it taught us something valuable. Work. Work for your fortune, as meager as it may be. Just work. Don’t blame anything on anyone. Don’t ever say you can’t do something. Because you can. Regardless of your limitations.

I myself have chosen never to have kids, because I want to break that lineage. I want to break and put an end to that pain. I never want anyone to come into this life and have that genetic memory.

Love is here. For me. I’m so lucky to have people in my life who love me.

Anyway, I will work on this post. As time goes on. If I’m so lucky to have more of it.

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