The story of two old ladies

my grandmother, Jiajia and I
my grandmother, Jiajia and I

The start of 2010 is for me the change of generation. My grand-mother Claudine Toffoletti passed away last week, at the age of 96 years. Although I have lived many years far away from her, we kept a very close relationships by letters. Email was something she had little idea about, but we wrote postal mails to each other. In the time of instant communication, hand written papers flying through the air half a world away were something magical that I always cherished. She also gave me some of her cooking recipes that I  continue to use, thinking about her. More than anything, this is what will keep the memory of my grandmother alive.

Although she grew up in a small village in Loire Department in France, she definitely departed from tradition when she married Luigi Toffoletti, a tall and beautiful Italian who was working in the local stone quarry. Discussing about it with her many years later, she calmly explained that her parents did not take it so well in the beginning, but that he became a much loved part of the family with the years. Being married with an Italian citizen at a time France was at war with Italy certainly had some difficulties, but the family managed through WWII.  Life did not spare them as my grand-mother worked hard to raise her 5 children alone after my grandfather suddenly died in the mid 1950’s. Although the family did face serious difficulties, they maintained a strong relationship that is still true today.

The loss of my grandmother mirrors my wife Jiajia’s loss of her grandmother 1 year ago. Like mine, Jiajia’s grandmother was a little women in her late 90’s. Her husband also died quite a long time ago. She was coming from Zhejiang province and also brought up a large family. She had to go through adversities of life in a country that was torn by civil war, revolution and years of instability.  Both of these ladies had a life that was took place so far away, but by a lot of ways so similar.  I had the chance to meet Jiajia’s grandmother once and Jiajia had the chance to meet mine. They probably never thought that there grandchildren could get married with somebody so different that they were themselves, but both were happy about it.

One thought on “The story of two old ladies”

  1. How fortunate to have had such wonderful grandmothers who loved both of you.

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