I woke up with a headache. I tried to get up but I felt dizzy, a nurse told me to rest. Something felt odd.
While I lied in bed I thought about the place I saw, it was an infirmary but it looked peculiar. It was old but at the same time, new. Vintage but brand new. I opened my eyes and tried to make sense of what I had seen.
The nurse gave me a glass of water. I asked her what date it was. She probably thought I said day instead of a date because she said it was Tuesday. I looked confused. I felt the floor was moving, I felt nauseated.
"Where Am I?" I asked.
The nurse looked at me she said with a strange accent I hadn't noticed before, "You're on board the Sannino."
The 'Sannino', that name sounded familiar. But where had I heard that name before? And more importantly, what was I doing on a ship? I only get on ships when I go scuba diving but I cannot remember being on a scuba diving trip. I tried to think hard, the last thing I remembered was returning home from work. I wasn't on any trip. This was strange. Maybe I should ask the nurse in which country I was, or make her talk to identify her accent. But that was ridiculous, I knew I was in Buenos Aires. Where else could I be?
The door to the infirmary opened and a soldier came in. His uniform was different. I couldn't recognize it as an Argentine uniform. Was I in a movie set? Was this a dream?
When the nurse told him I was awake, she spoke Italian. The soldier told her, he would inform his lieutenant. If this was a dream it was a serious waking call: I should watch less TV, it was affecting my brain. I couldn't tell reality from fantasy anymore. Maybe I should talk about this with my psychiatrist during my next session. Maybe this was a side effect of the medication I was taking... I tried to sit down the nurse helped me and I lied my back on the headboard. She was helping me with some pillows when the door opened again and I saw a man in a very elegant military long coat come in. He smiled...
I knew that smile... I knew those clear profound eyes... But it couldn't be... I knew 'he' had been on board the Sannino in 1936... Was it even possible? Was I really dreaming? It felt too real to be a dream!
I stuttered almost out of breath, "I-It's y-you? y-you a-are he-here?" He smiled and looked at me with eyes full of pride.
With eyes full of love, he spoke, "I knew you would recognize me! Of all my loved ones, you were always special. I really enjoyed our talks, but I needed to meet you face-to-face. Don't be afraid..."
"Why would I be afraid? You've always been by my side when I needed you. I always seek for you when I need advice. You're my guardian angel!" I uttered. Then I raised my hand to reach for him, "This isn't a dream, is it? You're really here, aren't you?"
He smiled and said, "Yes, we're together but you came to me, you are the one who came to visit me. I can only visit you in your dreams."
"But, it's not only in my dreams, I can feel you. I can feel your hand on my right shoulder when I am in trouble or feel down. You've always come to me." I uttered with a voice full of hope...
Hope this wasn't a dream.
He died when I was so young. I wished we could have more time. I wished he was alive during my adolescence. His advice and guidance would have been a treasure to me.
"You kept me alive all these years. You've always prayed for me. You called me when my children died so I would welcome them. In your prayers, you asked me to intercede for you before our Lord. I always watched over you. I am so proud of your accomplishments and the woman you became." He proudly declared.
"Forgive me. Have I detained your soul here on earth instead of letting you go?" I asked him worriedly.
"No, my child. I moved on. Don't worry. My soul is in peace. Now I am a soldier in our Lord's army and my job is to take care of you. You were right, I am indeed your guardian angel." He stated and he asked, "You know that we, angels, are soldiers, don't you?"
"Yes, of course, angels are soldiers and archangels are generals in God's army! But you will always be my lieutenant!" I responded but then I looked puzzled, "Aren't guardian angels assigned when a baby is born? You died when I was six and a half years old... what happened to the angel assigned to me?"
He laughed, "My dear child as you said I am a lieutenant and your guardian angel was a soldier, when I saw you cried for me after I died I asked to change places with him. And since here our superior knows all souls, living and dead, he knew you were quite a stubborn troublemaker, he considered you needed someone who could handle you and guide you properly to choose the right path." He seriously said and then he winked at me.
"Why did you bring me to this particular time and place, Nonno [Italian for grandpa]?" I wanted to know why he chose this particular event in his life.
He smiled and then explained, "There are certain pictures of me you like the most and the ones of me wearing uniform are your favorite. And the one of me resting under the sun on the deck of this ship is the one you like the most. Besides, it is June, and none of your parents have been born yet. Your father will be born this August and your mother in six years."
"I always wondered, why are you wearing your uniform on this ship which doesn't belong to the Italian Navy?" I questioned him.
"You always pay attention to the smallest details. That's one of the things I like the most about you. This is a commercial ship but it is used by the government. I am on a leave of absence. I am going to visit my wife." He explained. "Let's walk on deck, then rest under the sun on those deck chairs you like so much and have a talk!"
We walked out of the infirmary and went on deck. The deck looked so familiar, the place where that picture was taken near the lifeboat with the name of the ship 'Sannino - Genova' and the deck chair. The only difference with the picture was that it wasn't in black and white.
The first thing I did before sitting under the sun was hug my grandfather, he hugged me, too. We lost ourselves in a long affectionate hug. I really needed it. He kissed my forehead and I had to hold back the tears that were willing to escape from my eyes. It was a very overwhelming moment. We sat down.
He held my hands in his to make me feel more at ease. He spoke to me in a very gentle voice, "I wanted to see you. I know this is unusual, our connection is very rare. I am worried about you. You dreamt of having a family so much when you were a child, but you still remain single, you haven't had any children yet. You can still make your dream come true. You need to face your fears. I know your parents aren't exactly the best example of a happy family, but you're wasting your life because of your fears, you have to let go of the past and embrace the future. You can still meet a good man and if you cannot have a baby you can still adopt one. I want you to be happy!"
We walked on deck and hugged for a long time while he caressed my hair. "Now you need to go back and live a happy life. Remember I will always be with you!" After saying these words, he kissed me goodbye.
And I overwhelmed and full of joy, reciprocated, "Goodbye Nonno."
I woke up in my bedroom, my brother was holding my hand. He told me I had fainted and that I was calling a lieutenant when I was unconscious.
I didn't tell him about my encounter with our Nonno Narciso. He always wanted to have lots of grandchildren. I was his third grandchild, my brother was his first. He was a very religious man, fascinated by knight Templars, a lieutenant in the Italian Army during the Second World War, and a very intelligent and illustrated man.
Merci pour la lecture!
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