Growing up, I spent many summers with my grandparents in the heart of the sweet hamlet of Mussons. Sitting with my Nonni, I listened as they painted the hardships they endured throughout their lives. Even as a child, I could feel the sadness and grief of their past, especially with my grandmother, whose eyes spoke worlds of suffering. I never imagined I would one day share their story.
Over the years, my mother revisited the daggers that penetrated her heart so long ago. I watched as tears pooled before her as she opened the door to a harrowing past. Initially, it was a struggle but ultimately proved to be cathartic. In reliving her difficult childhood, other memories also surfaced…beautiful memories shrouded by pain but yearned to be remembered. My mother is brimming with incredible and often devastating stories, and yet she harbours no hatred for those who caused her family so much hardship. She is proof that one can heal through horrific cultural traumas. Love. Resilience. Legacy. These are my mother's lessons in her struggles through poverty and the horrors of World War II.
My mother lost two brothers in the war, one to the Russian front, and the other fell victim to the Nazi regime. Despite the darkness thrust upon my mother as a child, the ravages of war never dampened her faith—she never gave up believing the depth of her love would heal her family from layers of loss and despair. Stories like this one don’t often make it to the big screen, but it’s essential to preserve the legacy of the lessons gathered by the people who paved the way before us. We must learn from them, and help create a world where their dreams of love and family are kept alive, while keeping in mind the legacy of 20th-century wars, which still haunt us today. Stories like this matter now more than ever—so they are never repeated, and history is never forgotten.
In April 2018, I accepted an invitation to the 73rd anniversary of the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp liberation in Germany. There were 600 people from 20 countries attending. I journeyed to this remote camp to pay my respects to my uncle and countless others who faced an unimaginable, unjust fate. I felt my heart tear open, but this sobering experience called upon me to honour his life and my mother’s fond memories. I left those grounds forever changed with a profound deepening of my words as I wrote them in my book. See full story here.
I believe this book is being birthed at the right time, not only for cultural reasons but also in light of our present political climate. On a global scale, people are motivated by fear. We are afraid of our countrymen, fearful of immigration and our neighbours. My mother was a young girl coming-of-age during a time when the world feared its future. May her struggles propel readers to make peace with their childhood scars, rediscover their voices, and live heroically and fearlessly. May my family’s story remind people of the real threat of history repeating. Through our shared stories, we can author a more peaceful future by taking responsibility for each chapter and creating a world free of hate—a safe world for our children.
I hope Lilia will be a source of inspiration, moving the younger generation to share it with their parents and grandparents. In the process, may it spark meaningful conversation about our many life experiences and bring people together across generational and other differences to create understanding and empathy.
Author Linda Ganzini is a natural-born creative. At a young age, she discovered her talent for art and singing. Over the years, she immersed herself in painting, writing lyrics, and recording music that garnered international recognition and would go on to earn awards for her graphic design work.
A first-generation Italian Canadian, who spent her summers in Italy, Linda caught the travel bug and embarked on the adventure of living and working abroad in the United States and Europe.
In addition to her artistic work, travelling, and exploring new horizons, Linda’s most profound passion is bringing her family’s story to life, creating a legacy for them, and providing a voice for the voiceless. Her award-winning book Lilia is a homage to her family and their history