Taking Things for Granted
Even just two years ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say that likely, many of us were taking things for granted. Even adventurers have routines or some planning and things that they thought was the status quo.
We are living in a different world now that has been rocked by a global pandemic; taking things for granted is certainly not something that we do anymore.
In a way, that’s not a bad thing. We’ve learned to appreciate what we have because of what we’ve lost or things that we could no longer do, people we could no longer see, etc. Practicing gratitude has now, in a way, been forced upon us even though, of course, there are those who have become bitter or outraged about these changes … but we won’t go down that road!
In WWII, there was no such luxury, such as taking things for granted. My mother grew up in an ugly, hungry, and, at times, bitterly cold world as she lived through the six years of that war in a European winter. There was no central heating and wood, if you could find it, was used to heat water, and boil some veggies for broth, if you were lucky enough to find them for your one meal a day. The extract below is from the book, Goodbye to Italia, and is just a snippet of what it would have been like.
To this day, my mother doesn’t talk much about those times … understandably so, as they were unbearable. As a young child, the reasons for the war would have been incomprehensible. Truly, taking things for granted is, if anything, a luxury and likely a state of mind that many people would like to return to sooner rather than later.
Nonna seems to mutter a lot lately, I think to myself, as I go outside once again to wait for Mamma.
It is not long after that when Mamma appears from around a corner. I get up from the steps on which I have been sitting and go to meet her. ‘Did you find any food, Mamma?’
Shaking her head, she holds up one lonely orange carrot with a bit of green tuft sticking out at one end; and even that is not very big.
As we walk into the lavanderia, she tells Nonna and me that it was crazy in the barracks. ‘Erano pazzi! People were mad! Tables were being overturned and drawers pulled out and yet, you could see that everything had already been taken!’
Nonna decides to make (one) carrot soup for an early dinner that night. We have not had a carrot or any fresh vegetables for a very long time.
But, as she is filling the small pot with water, we hear a loud commotion outside. Running to the window, we peer down to the left and then look right.
‘There,’ Nonna points down the road to the Piazza. In the distance, we can see tanks approaching. Suddenly, plumes of smoke spurt from a number of the cannons as shots are fired. It is a few seconds delay before we hear the noise of the shots, and this startles us as they are loud and ominous.
‘Aiiiee!’ cries Nonna as even more shots are fired, and these connect with the overhead electrical tram wires. Instantly, these spark and catch fire. The orange fiery flames race towards our building, dancing and licking at the overhead tram lines. At the same time, the army tanks turn up our street and the cannon is moving again.