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Rosanna S.

rosanna

by Camilla M.

 

Name and Surname: Rosanna S.

Place of birth: San Giovanni Suergiu

Date of birth: 09.09.1953, 67 years old

 

I ask her to briefly describe the living conditions of her childhood, who her family was composed of, if she has memories of school.

Rosanna was born in a middle class family composed of only her parents, three daughters -ofwhom she is the youngest -and a boy. Her home was in the center of town, near the town hall. She tells me about her childhood as a very serene and playful period, she remembers that there was much more social interaction than today: there were very strong interpersonal relationships, there was a special bond between neighbors, who called each other uncles even if there was no blood relationship. When it was time to thresh, it was a real party for the whole neighborhood. Rosanna would stay at her grandparents' house for three days, and it was an occasion to be together, not only for those who went to help, but for anyone who wanted to participate.

 

She also remembers positively the period of the nursery school with the sisters: we enjoyed being together and doing the simplest activities, such as washing the breakfast bowls or going to pray in the chapel, were occasions of sharing. "Today," says Rosanna, "for the children it would be a punishment”. At the time, the children liked the chapel, it was small and not everyone was allowed to go, so it was highly coveted; but only those who behaved well could enter it. Rosanna was educated in the Christian religion: today she is a catechist and teaches Christian doctrine to her children, but she has great respect for other religions. In this regard she makes a reflection, she tells me that the cultural context in which an individual is born has the power to influence his faith. She recalls an essay written by Paolo, her eldest son, in high school: the teacher complimented the boy on the content of the assignment, but Rosanna was very resentful because of a thought contained in the essay that she could not share. The sentence was: "If I had been born in an African country, I would probably be a Muslim".

 

She currently does volunteer work through Caritas, preparing and delivering numerous food packages to families and individuals in need. Many of these are Muslim girls, strongly faithful to their religion but, not for this reason, less respectful of Rosanna and her beliefs: a demonstration of this is the fact that on the occasion of Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas, these women wish her well, because they have respect for their friend Rosanna and recognize that she has an important meaning in these days. When Rosanna as part of her volunteer work does something to help these girls, they always want to repay her, so she suggests that these girls pay her back by making a prayer to Allah, their God. "Because," she tells me, "it was true what Paul said: they tell me that I have the Christian God, they have Allah, but in the end it's the same, God is unique, we call him differently just because we had a different culture.

I ask her to tell me what her adolescence was like, whether it was fulfilling or whether she imagined things to be different.

She tells me that, without a doubt, she imagined a different future. As a girl, she was enrolled in college, attending medical school, but never completed her degree. "But beyond that," she tells me, "every day was a Sunday for me. A metaphor that gives the idea of how happy Rosanna is with her life and loves her family, even though her expectations were different. She had known her husband for some time, although they married when they were older, and was still attending medical school when her mother-in-law had health problems; her mother-in-law's illness and her desire to have children soon led her to make the decision to abandon her studies. She had already done the internship, she was attending the last year and also the thesis was ready (she analyzed a case history of thyroids in Sardinia, she had studied 600 cases). At the beginning of her university career she thought she wanted to be a pediatrician, but then the experience of the internship at the Oncological Hospital made her change her mind: the practice in the surgical department and the operating rooms made her fall in love with that branch of medicine. She told me a sentence that I think represents her a lot, because of the analogy with religion: "If medicine is a church, surgery is a tabernacle" because, she explained to me immediately afterwards, while the other branches of medicine suggest treatments, surgery intervenes immediately on the evil, it removes it. From the way he talks to me and engages me I sense allhis passion for medicine. "I am sure that tonight I will dream that I am there, in the operating room." It is nice to listen to her as she tells her story, her enthusiasm is engaging. She has cultivated this interest of hers, in a small way, because in the village she deals with giving injections and medications absolutely free of charge to people who need them. Rosanna also passes on her love and passion for what she does to the children in catechism, to whom she speaks not only about the classic themes of religion, but also about everyday issues of great interest, such as diseases, sexuality, the devastating effects of drugs and smoking, and bullying. "I've had kids who were bullied, but I've also had bullies: and bullies don't realize they're bullies [...] These are topics that I treat with pleasure, I learn a lot from kids too."

 

I ask her who, in the home, made the main decisions about the family and the education of the children.

She tells me that she has always recognized her mother as the most important educator: although she was more permissive than her husband, she was also the one who punished bad behavior. She got her education from her father when she grew up. She remembers only two episodes in which it was her father who got angry with her: the first was the time when, as a child, she picked up a candy from the ground and before he could stop her, she had already eaten it. The second episode concerned an invoice: Rosanna was small, she didn't know how to read yet; her family owned a store selling electrical materials, and one day, in front of a beautiful fire, she naively decided to throw a piece of paper to feed the flame. It was, unfortunately for her, a bill that had not yet been paid.She had a good relationship with her father. When he came home from work, she and Giovanna, her older sister, would stay with him and tell him how the day had gone. Unlike her cousins, who addressed their parents by calling them "you", they had a very confidential and freer relationship within the family.

Iask her if, in addition to her parents, she had important relationships with her grandparents or other adult/elderly figures.

She tells me that for a while Aunt Chiara, her mother's sister, also lived with her family. Rosanna's mother was very young when she was orphaned, she was only 4 years old, so her sister -who was 15 years old at the time -had to be a mother to her and her brothers, the youngest of whom was only 17 months old. When Aunt Chiara began to have health problems, Rosanna's mother did notleave her alone and welcomed her into her family. She stayed at home with them for many years. When she died, it was Rosanna herself who washed and dressed her, even though she was only 15 years old. "It was the last act of love I could do for her." She has a very vague memory of her paternal grandparents, while her maternal grandparents died before she was born and she was unable to meet them. As a grandmother she had Aunt Chiara: when she was a child, Rosanna really thought this woman was her grandmother, and she cried a lot when Pina, her older sister, told her that she wasn't.

 

What did you think about adulthood when you were a child and how do you experience it now? What does this moment of your life represent for you, what do you dedicate yourself to?

Rosanna is part of some associations and support realities for the weakest, such as the parish Caritas. In part, she has already told me about this important activity of hers, about the relationship of trust that is inevitably established with the families and the women to whom she lends her help. She tells me about the Moroccan girls to whom she delivers the food parcels, about the friendship that now binds them: one of them insisted strongly on giving Rosanna an object that she had brought with her from Morocco, apparently a rusty little box, "It's old but precious, I'm glad you have it". Another girl, originally from Morocco like the previous one, also wanted to give her a gift: she gave her a silver glass belonging to her family, "Since you don't come to drink at my house, so it's like we drink together." "These are things that are more rewarding than a paycheck," he tells me.

 

Although they belong to another religion, these women have great respect not only for Rosanna, but also for "Mr. Priest," as theyare wont to call the priest, for the Christian faith and for the Church as a sacred building.For Rosanna, respect has always been a fundamental value, in every sphere. She tells me an episode: after graduating from high school, her father gave her a tripas a present. For a few weeks she was a guest in Piedmont with a Sardinian family who had a daughter more or less the same age as Rosanna, Lidia, with whom she became very familiar, so much so that she became the best man at her wedding the following year. There were also other people on vacation, and one day one of them asked her "Will you be offended if I call you sardignola?", a term often used with a negative meaning, as if it were an offense. Rosanna did not get upset, and replied with exemplary education and superiority that if they preferred they could call her that, and that she would not be offended, because she was Sardinian, not sardine. They had a distorted image of Sardinians and Sardinia, backward. One girl's mother even scanned her words slowly when she spoke to her, as if Rosanna could not understand Italian. There was a lot of ignorance, they were surprised to learn that in Sardinia they did the same things that were done "on the mainland", such as studying Montale and the integrals in the ministerial program. All this made Rosanna very angry. Lidia's husband claimed that he wanted to go to Sardinia only after he had obtained a gun permit. There was great distrust, there was fear of bandits, Sardinia was known only through stereotypes and clichés. A few years later, Lidia and her husband Ferruccio finally decided to come to Sardinia (and he really had a gun!), and asked Rosanna to host them, but only for one day: they went to the beach together, and when they returned, Rosanna's mother made them find the table laid with typical and delicious food. The guests were surprised by this attitude, they wondered why they were so hospitable with people they hardly knew. In the end, the vacation that was supposed to last only one day, became a week-long stay! When the day of departure arrived, they left in tears. "Think Rosanna, we don't even cry when we have to say goodbye to relatives!" they told her. Now that was an example of integration.

 

I ask her to tell me more about her volunteer work.

Thanks to the experience she gained in medical school, she offers to help people in need with dressings and injections. It's an activity to which she devotes herself full time, citizens who need a dressing or an injection also contact her through the priest. There are periods when she has a really full day, sometimes people ask her to be available for lunchtime, but sometimes she has to say no because she needs to devote herself to her family.Among her many activities there is also that of catechist. Of the 15 children she follows, there is not one who does not participate willingly: catechism is an appointment that the children never want to miss, even when they are not well, because at the end of the lesson there is a snack, which Rosanna wanted to include as a moment of sharing. In the past few months, when the activity had to be interrupted because of Covid, she received messages from her children who wrote "I miss you Rosanna, I miss our meetings". Every year, with the older children, she organizes a visit to a home for the elderly. Last year the meeting was held on the occasion of Grandparents' Day and some children, having lost their grandparents, "adopted" one of the elderly of the home. Together they baked sweets, sang, shared a snack: it was a fun afternoon for everyone, both children and seniors. Rosanna keeps wonderful memories of those afternoons, but so do her kids. After posting a photo of the afternoon spent with the seniors, she received a message from one of her former students who is now a woman and anurse. The message read "Rosanna, I still remember when you brought us, it was beautiful. I started right then to love what would become my job." Do a job you love and you won't work a day in your life. Rosanna made that statement a rule.

I ask her what her life is like now that her children have grown up and left home.

She tells me that it is part of the natural course of life that children, once adults, cut the umbilical cord. Although in reality there has never been a real separation, because although Paolo is in Milan, thanks to the new technologies he hears from him daily and feels as if he should arrive at any moment. She is happy for him, because she knows he has fulfilled a dream. Anna, his youngest daughter, doesn't live far away and they see eachother often. She tells me, with a pinch of bitterness, that there is one thing she has not been able to do with her children, unlike her mother: Rosanna's mother made each of her children feel as if he was the favorite, and each of them was convinced thathe was the "special one". She tells me about her relationship with Giovanna, her older sister of two years, who passed away not long ago: they were not just sisters, they were great friends. Sometimes they would argue, like when Giovanna wanted to go out for a walk at the weekend, but Rosanna was tired because she had spent the whole week in Cagliari at the University and preferred to stay home and rest, so they would clash and call each other selfish. But in the end they always came to a compromise. Even though she was only two years older than her, Giovanna had been her older sister: when they were children, it was she who confessed to her the secret behind the figures of Santa Claus and the Epiphany! The Christmas holidays had just ended, school had started again a few days ago, and Giovanna, with a note of disappointment, said to her younger sister "I have to confess something to you: I stayed up all night, do you know who the befana is? It's mom, dad and Pinuccia! Look at the handwriting, it's Pinuccia's!" Pinuccia was the older sister. Rosanna, faced with the overwhelming evidence, gave a desperate cry! And Giovanna, although she was also very small, knew that for Rosanna
it would be a great sorrow and, in an attempt to protect her, decided not to confess it to her right away so as not to ruin her celebrations. "I don't know where the relationship of kinship ended and that of friendship began."

 

I ask her about her relationship with the new means of communication.

She tells me that, at first, she wasn't enthusiastic about the idea of having a cell phone, not only did she not feel the need, but she refused to use it at all. Then she was stimulated a bit by her children and grandchildren, and now she makes daily use of it. She uses WhatsApp a lot to keep indaily contact with Paolo, who is far away and with whom she sees herself via video call. She uses it to communicate with the Sunday school parent group, a sales group for household products, the catechists group, and the family group. She also has a chat room with her old middle school classmates.She also uses the phone to inquire about the Coronavirus issue around the world, politics and the latest scientific findings. "Documenting never hurts, I don't want to get behind the times!"She does not like theidea that there are kids, even those who attend catechism with her, who are not informed about current events and do not know, for example, who the head of government is. She believes that if one is not informed about certain topics, such as politics, oneis not even able to express one's own opinion about them. Between 6 and 7 every morning, when she has an hour to devote to information, Rosanna uses her cell phone to listen to parliamentary sessions, read newspaper articles or watch video news. She tells me, also on this occasion, about the importance of respect: respect towards those who have different ideas, from a political or religious point of view, is the key word for a civil coexistence.

 

What is the role of your generation today? And what message would you like to leave to young people?

There is one thing I notice today in young people, but also in adults: intolerance and little patience. Respect for the rules must never fail, even the most trivial ones. And the key to ensuring that these rules are respected is dialogue, we must explain to children the meaning of respect. There are rules that always apply, and one of them is respect for others. "What I do, in my own small way, is try to show the kids, but also the adults, that we are all equal."