It’s a Saturday night in late February. The year is 1986. I am eight-and-a-half years old and I’m getting ready for bed. I’m very excited for the morning to arrive. That’s because, in just a few hours, something will happen that’s been happening almost every Sunday for the last year. I’ll feel my father’s hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake as his voice says, “Gabri, wake up! It’s six o’clock. We’re going fishing.” For over a year, ever since my mom gave my dad a little fishing boat, this has been our Sunday routine – my father and I, alone or sometimes with friends, head out to Lake Trasimeno.
It’s a day just for us, a day of waiting, of talking, and of long silences. Luckily, the bursts of good cheer over the catch of a fish aren’t too few or far between.
It’s been thirty years since those Sunday mornings, and the most vivid childhood memories I have with my father are, without a doubt, the ones connected to fishing. He still goes, almost every Sunday. As for me – maybe because I’m hardly ever home, perhaps because, when I am, I’m too lazy to get up at six in the morning – I haven’t gone with him for many years. Now it’s my brother-in-law and nephew’s turn to go fishing with him.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying spending Sundays with my friends, often in the company of their children. Almost everyone around me has become a parent over the last few years. A couple of friends and I are the only ones in our group who still don’t have kids of our own.
I naturally began to observe how the others were raising their children. I watch them playing together, hear the arguments and the kids’ complaints at mealtimes or at bedtime. I’ve often been the one in charge of the kids when those moments happen.
Just maybe, all of these things are making me start to want to be a father. When I watch my closest friends, as well as all of the fathers that I meet around the world, and when I recall those memories from my childhood of the time spent with my dad, I feel like I’m preparing myself for my moment, if it ever arrives.
That is why I’ve decided to make the relationships between fathers and their children the focus of this project. Wherever I am in the world, when I meet a father I ask him to tell me about a special moment he has spent with his children and, when I can, I photograph them together.
That is how I have put together this collection of stories of fathers and their children – stories that I take as either lessons or advice for those who, like me, might have kids of their own someday.