Tattoos are like memories

If you have an unconditional love for tattoos, a car, and sometime to kill, let me give you a suggestion: Go meet Sabatino Finzi and you may come back home with a whole other view on why people like to paint their bodies with strange drawing of multiple colors.

In this family tattooing your arms has one meaning only: Remembering what was once the INFERNO so that it could never happen again.
Sabatino Junior’s “never forget’s” banner tattooted on his right shoulder is a tribute to his grandfather, Sabatino Senior’s tattoo 158556, the number that for two years became his new name and identity at Auschwitz.

Sabatino Sr. is one of the two still alive Nazi Camp survivor who were taken with the 1022 Roman on October 16, 1943 from the Jewish Ghetto. He came back, “God only knows why me” in 1945 and built a metal recycler out of nothing at only 18. The Finzi & Co. today is one of the biggest family owned business in this field.

“He started picking-up pieces of metal to recycle biking around the Roman hills,” said his wife Esterina Pavoncello who was lucky enough to escape the Nazi by hiding in the basement of a grocery store, “from nothing came something, working for Sabatino was a way of not thinking about the horrible past he had to endure. His job saved him from going crazy.”

Sabatino Sr. does not like to talk about “it” to anyone. He says speaking about the camps it’s like “putting salt on an open wound, it makes it bleed for no reason.”

But, yet he starts on talking to me.

He lights up his chocolate cigar, take a puff in, licks his lips and starts speaking about the ways he was taken away from school because of the “Leggi Razziali,” he tells me about having lost his mother and sister. He catches his breathe for a second and then smiles thinking about the time when he met his “gorgeous” wife and how long it took him to conquer her father’s approval to marry her.

I feel privileged and so I listen to his somber voice telling me details of his horrible life in the Camps. I am speechless as usual. Speechless and also very bitter. Why do I have do ask these people to pain for me every time? I wish I could just get this information without having to cause them harm. I hate the tears, the choking voice and the shaking hands. I hate it all. It hurts them. I decide to stop. I can read about his story. I can just read it from his eyes. I must stop. He said he does not want to talk and I must respect this.

While I think about all this quietly, he changes the subject for me…
“Federica, you are a very beautiful woman, why aren’t you married?”
And so I answer “Well, Sabatino, I just haven’t found the right man yet.”
He laugh “Well, I guess men at this age understand nothing. Nothing at all.”

Thanks G-d for this man. I walk outside, the sun is shining and the sky is blue…no better way to spend a Tuesday morning.

2 thoughts on “Tattoos are like memories

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