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I met your papa through friends. I wasn’t attracted to him at first. It developed over time. In the beginning, we went out in groups on a Thursday evening and that went on for a good few weeks, until we gradually started to do our own thing together. We saw each other once a week and this went on for some time. There was no romance, nothing, just talking. There was no intimate exchanges that all. As that continued and there was no sign of things moving beyond that awkward lack of intimacy, I started to question what was going on between the two of us. I wondered if he was if he was even attracted to me at all. This feeling was highlighted further when he came and picked me up one evening with another women in the car. I had never met her before and there was an uncomfortable animosity between us. She told him that I had evil eyes, which he later said had  put him off me for a while. When he told me this, I remember having an argument about it as I found it so offensive and hurtful. Anyway, I didn’t see that woman again with him. Not long after that happened and we had argued, we went out one afternoon. I plucked up the courage to question our ‘relationship’ to him. I asked where things were going. He didn’t say anything at first. This didn’t surprise me at all. Why would he? It was going nowhere. But then, he kissed me. And that was that. We eventually made it public that we were now a couple. We continued to meet up once a week, which then slowly progressed into more frequent visits and time, spent together. I became very fond of him. He cared and showed me attention. He respected me in time I fell in love. Your dad and me used to dance a lot in the early years. We loved dancing together and would often go to the disco. Sometimes we went on our own and sometimes we went with friends. We had some good friends at that time. I remember the jealously, even this early. But, I didn’t take it as a warning sign. Because there was so much intimacy lacking in the beginning, I just used this as a way of understanding that he actually cared for me. I remember the times when we would go to his work together at the racecourse and I would help him with things such as cleaning the stables, washing the horses with him and so on. He was so caring with his horses, which I loved. As well as that, we would also go out to eat pizza. We never went back to each other’s places, so everything other than that had to happen in his car. We talked in the car; we had sex in the car. Everything happed in the car. That went on for about a year. Good times. Our first home together was a flat in Grottozolina in the center of town. It was up two flights of marble stairs. We had a small kitchen with one table and two chairs. There was no cooker or fridge. We had to put all the chilled stuff in water to keep it cool and I had a camping stove to cook on. The living room consisted of a sofa bed and a TV that would frequently break. The bedroom had a double bed and a wardrobe. We have no money to buy anything else. I have many fond memories of your papa from around that time. I remember him trying banana sandwiches for the first time and he adored them. But I think the best memories were when our horse would win a race and we would go out to celebrate. We would go to restaurants, drink and go to nearby discos to dance. We would then use what was left of the winnings to buy furniture for the flat. I remember us being so happy because we had money. When I think about my favorite memories, I have a few…. Starting a family was magical. It wasn't planned and we had no money, but we just got on with it. I wasn't taking birth control so it was inevitable really. I can’t remember it being a big thing when we realized we were going to have a child together. We didn't really talk about it as your papa was too wrapped up his work. We just accepted the fact that I was pregnant and got on with it, Coming home with Elaine was beautiful. I remember bathing her for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing. I was left on my own a lot as your papa was always working. He was good but never helped me at all. That was my job in his eyes. He was happy though. His family didn’t know anything about Elaine or me. It was only when I was pregnant with you that he told his family. I remember him calling them from a payphone and I was stood beside him with Elaine. Shortly after that, his dad came to visit. I really liked him. Soon after, we decided to get married at the registry office in town. No one was present but two witnesses. After a very quick exchange of vows he left to go to work and I went home to continue with the housework. It was a very ordinary day. We left our flat and moved to a bigger place around that time. It was a beautiful but very old and tired house on top of a hill, out of the center of town with no neighbor’s close-by. I remember lots of fruit trees in the garden. We bought a goat called Kikini, who was your first pet. That Christmas we went to Palermo to stay with his family, who only recently knew of me. You were born then. He also worked Christmas Day. I remember being lonely a lot of the time. Your Papa would be gone for days on end. I didn’t drive so I couldn’t go anywhere. I would just be in that big old house, with two kids. Your papa would always be away somewhere. One night we had a terrible thunderstorm. The house was hit by lighting and there was an almighty bang. All the sockets had blue flashes coming out of them. I had no power, just total darkness. You were both screaming and frightened. I had to go down the hill in the pitch black and sort it out. Your papa was away. My least fondest memory? I have many, but the one there is one that sticks more in my head than some of the others. It was when we had gone food shopping. I wasn't allowed to speak to anyone at all otherwise they would be big trouble. I went to buy some cheese and a guy said hello to me and I said hello back. Big mistake. I could see your papa give me dirty looks and I knew I was in trouble. I was dreading getting back into the car as he was furious. We got in the car and I had one of you sat on my knee. Before he started the car he slapped me on the face and then spat on me. He was so angry and his face was red. He was shouting at me asking why I spoke to that man etc. You kids were screaming and crying. He told me he was going to kill me and started to drive really fast, threatening to crash into walls. I can’t remember what happened next. I think we had another argument that night and he slapped me again. There were many incidents like that. There are too many to write down. I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone. I remember being struck by a belt because I hadn’t cleaned his shoes properly as his mother watched. She took his side. I think love can get confusing when you have to describe what the word means to you. You have got to do it. But as I’ve got older I’ve realized that love is too big to describe. Its a strange kind of word it can be selfish yet unbelievable too. Love is thinking about the other person and making them happy but also not forgetting about yourself too. The relationship ended because he lost his respect for me. He treated me terribly and I couldn’t do anything right. I began to dislike him so much that I couldn’t remember those earlier days. The times we had in the car. Our friends. The Dancing. My stomach would turn every time I heard the car pull up, I couldn’t take anymore of his anger. He began to call me Brutto Bestia (the hideous beast). He took my personality away from me. I was planning my own funeral in my head. It was around that time I knew things were never going to be as I hoped they could, and that I had to go back to England. Denise (sister) helped me plan my return to England in secrecy. Your papa knew nothing about it. It wasn’t as easy as booking a flight online. It took time. We couldn’t get caught on our way to the airport or even at the airport. Your papa had lots of friends and if anyone realized what I was doing, they would stop me and he would find out. The last day I saw your papa I knew I was flying back to England that day. No one had a clue. I remember him going to work that morning. I went to the balcony and I watched him walk to his car, get in it and drive off to work. . I remember looking at him and saying ‘goodbye, you bastard.’ I felt nothing. Despite everything, when I got on the plane…that was still my saddest day. You were all happy as we were on a plane but I felt sadness inside. I was worried about my future with my children. I didn’t want you all to come from a broken home like I had. But after everything, I also felt very sad, because I had left the love of my life. If I could go back and give Antonio advice it would be to ask ‘Why?’ I loved you. You were my life. I did not deserve to be treated that way. You loved your kids. Was it worth loosing your children and watching them grow up? I'm sorry I left you, but I had no choice. You would have hurt me really bad. I did not want our children growing up and seeing the violence and anger within you. I wanted them to respect you and love you not hate you for the person you had become. I will always love you but not like before. That went along time ago. If I could go back and give myself advice it would be to think about your husband, but don't let him walk over you. Do not make excuses up for his jealousy. You are not his slave! Be strong do not let him bully you. Fight back no matter what it takes Do not feel sorry for him. Be confident. Believe you are beautiful and let your short tongue ruin your life. Fight back at the Bullies. See the world. The song that reminds me of your Papa is Love of the Common People by Paul Young:


I met your mother through friends in Palermo. She couldn't speak a word of Italian and I spoke English a little better than now. I immediately liked her and after a few months we decided to move in together in Montegiorgio. In the beginning we had almost nothing, but we loved each other very much and immediately I was very successful in my work. Everything was beautiful. I was successful, money and then the children arrived; beautiful in perfect health, we were living a fairytale story. After about three years I had problems in my work and due to my immaturity I didn't leave the problems out, but I always took them with me and your mother and I went into crisis. So I was left alone. I went into depression because I lost the most important value for me which was my family, my children and the people who previously considered me a champion no longer knew me; I felt like a ghost, no one knew me anymore. But then I reacted to the depression by learning to split my personality: one part of me lived the reality, while the other part of me thought and saw forward, sure to overcome everything and that the future would be better because I was sure of my children's love. In the meantime I had returned to professional success, but it was not happiness but melancholy because I could not share those moments with my children and even if in the midst of people, I felt alone. A proverb says: ten minutes of sun dry the road. Now my road has a lot of sun; my children are already adults, they are honest people, they are appreciated people, they love me and above all they are better than me. I don't live on memories: my children are my future. The song that reminds me of your mother is Alan Sorrenti’s Tu sei l'unica donna per me:

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