“When the ambulance came, I de-dramatized, joking with him. He was a fighter, and I knew he would come back to us. Ten days later, they brought a coffin to us, already sealed. As I couldn’t see him, I still don’t believe it was him inside. We were not allowed to visit him, and I kept fearing my phone because the doctor called me every day at the same time for updates. Only the last day she called me earlier... It was just a quick message; it sounded like a cold, routine task for her.
“I had the good luck to be alone with the coffin for a couple of hours before my two sisters came, and I told my father everything I didn’t dare to say to him before. I was not prepared for this, and I knocked on the coffin to make sure he heard me,” Angelo said.
Angelo is a good and old friend of mine. We were racing cyclists and trained together before I went abroad to study Arts. His life as a cyclist changed very little since then, but only a few weeks ago, on Nov 25, 2020, his father Ferdinando, 84 years old, died, and now he is considering quitting for good. Ferdinando was always at the races, giving him the water bottle or food, preparing his bicycle, and putting the number on his shoulder. “He lived downstairs from me, we saw each other every day, and he must have missed no more than 10 of my races in 35 years,” says Angelo. I met Ferdinando many times. When the road bicycle season had finished, in the winter, and I couldn’t count on my team to take me to the mountain bike races, he would give me a lift. Angelo and his father were among the few who went to both road and off-road races; their season never really ended. Ferdinando would even follow Angelo in his car during many of his trainings.
Angelo is married and has an 8-year-old son. He takes turns with his two sisters sleeping downstairs to make sure that their mum is okay. “I feel like an actor. Although I’m in deep pain, I must lift her up. She is not well and keeps asking me the same question 100 times.”
Angelo is a surveyor in the city hall of Lissone. Every time I go see my family in Italy, we go for a ride or a pizza. Today we meet in person, and I portray him from life, deep in thought, looking at his cycling helmet.