The leader of the Poohs: «Since 2010 the fight against the disease. I spent the last days of her life hugging her and talking to her. And I asked for forgiveness for the times I was abrupt “
Dodi Battaglia is in his home in Bologna. Everywhere, guitars, sheet music. On the walls, gold and platinum discs. On the piano, a photo in an overturned frame of which only the back can be seen, as if it had been shot down by a small meteorite. He is in a white T-shirt, shoulders hunched. He says: «Every step in these rooms reminds me of Paola and every image of Paola is a stab. I really feel a physical pain in my heart ».
Paola Toeschi, his wife, 21 years old together, 11 of illness, died here, aged only 52, last Monday. He, today, has just returned from Riccione: «I took the little girl to lunch by the sea. To distract her. Every day, I try to get her to do something to keep her from memories. Memories are a stab in the heart ». He says that at the funeral, someone, to comfort him, told him “at least, he’s finished suffering.” He looks at me: “Do you know what I thought?”
«That unfortunately, at the end of his suffering, my fight against his illness is also over. Since 2010, my motivation to live has been her: the visit, the chemo, find another doctor … When she left, I felt like a balloon deflating. I have always found depression unthinkable, it doesn’t look like me, I’m combative, but now I’m starting to think about what a person can feel who is left without the love of his life and maybe has no friends, doesn’t have a 15-year-old daughter to accompany in the future . Here, now, I am lucky enough to have my daughter as my goal. Having to keep going is a huge force for her. Sofia is strong, she is a girl by now, she carries the family surname with pride and dignity, but she is still a 15-year-old heart ».
How strong has she been over the years with her sick mother?
“When my wife found out she had a brain tumor, she gave her a speech I can’t say, a speech you can give to a five-year-old. The children are never much more intelligent than we think: when Paola was operated on, Sofia gave her the doll from which she never separated. He told her: so, in the hospital, you won’t feel alone. Now, outside the church, while they were taking away the coffin, I said to her: let’s go say hello to my mother because there aren’t many such beautiful mothers. I always tell her that she must be happy because she lived for 15 years with a fantastic mother: what do you do with a mother who is worth less than 50 years? ».
At the funeral, she said: “A person with a great soul is gone.” What is a great soul like?
“It shines. When she enters a crowded room, you feel it on your skin. Mia Martini, with whom I had the honor of collaborating, was like this: she came in and everyone turned around because they felt a different vibration and, standing close to her, you could feel the light emanating. The same thing Paola. Those who have known her tell me: what a transparent soul, what kindness. For example, she never saw the negative side of people, she wasn’t stupid even a little bit, but she didn’t know mistrust. She was always smiling, she was born with that smile. Few people know that she was a commercial actress: she was the mommy of Mulino Bianco, she had that womanly face to entrust children to ».
In church, she also said: “I spent the last days of her life hugging her, kissing her and talking to her softly.”
“Even the last two days, when he was in a coma. They told me: stay there and talk, have you ever seen anything coming to her… And so I did, but I had already been there for 15 days, since she could hardly speak anymore. In short, one day, I said to her: do you remember when our daughter was born? Do you remember that vacation? Do you remember when we moved house? I told her the most fantastic things that a couple in love does. And it came spontaneously to me to ask her forgiveness ».
Forgiveness for what?
“Because when you are under certain stresses you can get nervous, abrupt. I am not the most unassailable person, I have not been the best husband, but not one of the worst either. ”
How did Paola experience the disease?
“I have never seen her cry, nor heard her complain or curse her illness. Thankfully, her type of tumor didn’t cause any pain, it went away without screams or morphine. With illness, he had discovered faith, he prayed a lot. After a trip to Medjugorje, he had an enlightenment and his life became very dedicated to prayer, to attend churches and priests. I was already a Christian Catholic, although I didn’t go to church every Sunday. I understand that at times you cling to faith, but I have seen her become a different wife, one with whom you no longer spoke about the upcoming holidays or could share certain talks. Maybe I would ask her something and she would reply: sorry, I’m praying. The third time one says: well… That was a bit strange moment. I have been beside her. I went with her to Medjugorje, but I didn’t have the same love at first sight. There a very young friar said mass, so smart and intelligent that I asked to speak to him. I say: father, I have a problem, I find that my wife is too dedicated to prayer, I talk to her and she thinks about the next mass. He told me that, in his state, it was normal for the relationship between the two things, me and God, to be unbalanced. He explained it to me with a simplicity that pacified me ».
Did she pray?
“Very very much. Immediately. At the first visit, they told us: we will operate in two days, she can die under the knife, she can be paralyzed for half, maybe not speak anymore, but we can eventually do something to re-educate her. From that moment, until the operation, I prayed without ever stopping ».
How did you discover the disease?
“One morning, her leg began to tremble rashly. She went to the hospital, I joined her, they baptized us immediately with the general picture, they told us: if she survives the surgery, she will undergo a course of therapies for five to fifteen years that now we do not know how much and how they will serve. They predicted what happened. Fortunately, the operation went well, although part of the tumor could not be removed. She came home after a month, after two or three she was playing basketball, going out with her friends. Then, it was years of chemo and radiotherapy, ups and downs. An unimaginable thing. Also because Paola was 18 years younger than me and I had always joked about it, I said: I’m the old man of the family. I was afraid that I would be gone long before her ».
He said Paola never cried. And she?
“Lately, I’ve run out of tears. I saw that there was nothing more to be done. I talked to her, looked at her and cried. She had to go back to the hospital for treatment the day after she passed away, we didn’t expect this aggravation ».
How did you guys meet?
“I was with the Poohs at a benefit concert in Macugnaga, in Piedmont. She came with a friend of mine from there, I saw a bright, beautiful person. I wanted to invite her out the next day, but I was in a story that was about to end and I immediately felt that women like Paola deserve respect. A year later, when I got free, a minute later, I looked for her. We started dating cleanly. A beautiful story was born, as transparent as our daughter is ».
In the book “Stronger than evil” that Paola wrote in 2015 she said that after two marriages ended, she did not want to get married anymore, but changed her mind while they were operating on her.
“Possibly that’s the way it went, but I don’t remember it. They are such devastating moments … I know that I married her because she was a woman who, if you knew her, you wanted to have her as a wife ».
She was born on the day of the moon landing, July 21, 1969, and before Paola entered her life, the Poohs wrote The Moon is twenty years old, which says “that night twenty years ago … is the night you were born”. It was destiny?
«While writing the text, Valerio Negrini had thought about the birth of a new woman, strong and aware… Just think that my son Daniele was born on July 21st and so was my aunt. We always had cumulative birthdays and there was something magical about that too ».
Of the 140 songs you wrote, which were for Paola?
«It was dedicated to her Romantica, an instrumental solo piece. But when you love like this, everything you do is for that person. ”
If you think of her, what scene do you see?
“She and I on the terrace of the house in the country as we watch our three-year-old daughter, with blond curls, play happily on an immense lawn. And a drawing by Sofia, which I hid because seeing it hurts me: there is a little girl among us who are holding her hand. I can say that Paola taught me that love can grow. We are used to fading loves. Ours has always grown and I want to tell everyone that this possibility exists and we must continue to believe in it, because the condition of being together is precious. I think about it every time I go out, I see a certain restaurant, I pass in front of the tollbooth of the motorway I was crossing with her and I think that there will be no other love, that I will never be so happy again ».
When do you miss it most?
“I tell my daughter that she is still here. That, if he asks it, he can feel it. I was already doing this with my parents who are no longer there. Whenever I have a question that I can’t ask a friend or a father confessor, I ask them, and now you. I ask her things from parent to parent. And the answer comes. Maybe it’s not her, but it’s her voice and the answer is as good as she was. ”
And to God, if he still prays, what is he asking in these days?
“I never ask for anything. I am only grateful for what he gave me. In any case, if there is something he can do, he knows it better than me ».
September 13, 2021 (change September 13, 2021 | 09:13)
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