Au revoir, Lola

I guess it’s time to talk about someone I have not mentioned much yet on my blog. My Grandmother.

Fulvia Gherardi

I’m still looking for my favorite picture of her.

Fulvia, of her real name, is my maternal grandmother, straight from Toscana, Italy. When she moved to France, she preferred the name Lola, as Fulvia – she was named after a famous Roman noblewoman – was a little tough to pronounce. The last time that I remember meeting with her while she was still lucid was at an upscale restaurant in Beirut. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and the last time I saw her, I had to remind her of who I was every 2, 3 minutes.

To say that her and I were really close would be a little hard to understand. When I was born, Alzheimer’s had already made its way into that wonderful, powerful head of hers, even though it didn’t really get to her until a few years later.

I take pride in what I remember of her, because those are memories that I have earned through our multiple encounters, ranging from more lucid to less. I can’t lie, my favorite moments are those when I would see something change in her eyes when I would remind her, the last few times I saw her, of a few things she had forgotten, of my Mother, and of who I was. Our relationship was not easy. But, no matter what anyone might say, it was.

My Mother, aged 5

My Mother, aged 5

Me, aged 6

I might not talk about my Grandmother much, but it is my way of keeping her mine, for I am very proud of her. Eccentric, unusual, very modern for her time, and so damn courageous. And so, so strong.

My Grandmother is probably not like yours. My Grandmother survived WWII, in Europe. She nursed war victimes and became famous because her sister* and she were never afraid to plan gigs in danger zones. She lived in many countries before settling in Lebanon. She spoke more than 8 languages. She rebuilt her life a number of times. In some ways, this is where her strength stems from. She was a pioneer in many ways.

And so, when she passed away, it was a little tough for me to deal with. I’m 25. I no longer break down just because someone in their 80s has parted ways with life. So how was I to react? Because of the strong, abstract bond Lola and I had, I could not help but feel that this was not my mourning (deuil), but my Mother’s. And my Mother is both my strength and my weak-point.

I harness my power from the things I inherited from Lola. We’re both stubborn. We’re both sometimes too rational for our own good. We both can separate emotions from what is not “emotions”. And we both charge right towards whatever obstacle lies in our way. (We both also absolutely adore seafood.)

We are three generations of very strong Gerardi women. And it ROCKS.

*developed in a post that is coming up.


  1. Faisal Merheb says:

    i like it a lot, love the header too… always fun to visit your blog miss Nour.