adopt:
take someone permanently & officially into your family

go deaf:
become unable to hear

hold something steady:
hold something so it doesn’t move

get along with:
live happily and peacefully with

pack:
put your things into boxes etc., in prepaation for moving

newspaper reporter:
person who writes for a newspaper

spend a few minutes with Marlena:
be with Marlena for a few minutes

missed his cats:
felt sad because he didn’t have his cats

basket:
small, light container for carrying things

ran away:
escaped from his control

they never cared:
they never loved me


Giorgio Angelozzi (easy version)

In Italy, in the autumn of 2004, there were suddenly many stories in newspapers and on television about an old man called Giorgio Angelozzi. Soon his name was in newspapers and on television all around the world.

The stories told how Giorgio was looking for a family to adopt him as a “grandfather.” Giorgio was seventy-nine years old, the stories said. He had worked for many years as a high school teacher. He had been married for forty-six years. His wife had died in 1992.

Giorgio and his wife had one daughter. She had become a doctor and was working in another country. Giorgio said that he talked to her on the phone sometimes.

Giorgio also said that he had a sister, but that he had fought with her and they had not spoken to each other for a long time.

When he spoke on television shows, Giorgio explained that after he had stopped teaching, he had left Rome and moved to a small village outside the city. He said his daughter had told him that the clean air there would be good for his health.

He was living alone in an apartment with seven cats. He was healthy but he was going deaf. He also had a problem with his eyes which made it hard for him to read. Besides all that, when he tried to hold something steady, his hand shook badly.

Giorgio said that since he had moved to the village, he had been getting lonelier and lonelier. He had no friends there. Often he would go for a whole day without saying even one word.

Giorgio said that when he started talking to his cats he realized he had to change his life. He decided to put an ad in a newspaper asking a family to adopt him as a “grandfather.” In return, he said, he would give his new family the money he got from his pension and he would help the children with their homework.

Giorgio got answers to his ad from all over Italy — and from Italian families all over the world.

Marlena Riva didn’t see Giorgio’s ad, but she and her family did see him on television one night while they were having supper. When the program was finished, Marlena looked at her family and said: “Do you think we need a new grandfather?” Everyone thought this was a good idea so, together, they all wrote a letter to Giorgio.

Giorgio liked the letter and he was happy to see that everyone in the Riva family — Marlena, her husband Elio, and their two teenage children — Dagmara and Mateusz had written their names on it. He phoned the Rivas and they had a good talk.

The Rivas lived near Milan, in northern Italy, far away from Rome. A few weeks after he talked to them on the phone, Giorgio flew north. He lived with the Rivas for a while to see if he got along well with them. Everything went well; he liked the whole family and they all liked him.

Giorgio went back south and packed. When he was ready to move, Marlena flew to Rome to help him. They flew back to Milan together. There were newspaper reporters and photographers on the plane.

A while later, there were stories in the papers about how Giorgio and the Rivas were having a happy life together. The stories told how Giorgio was helping in the kitchen and how he was helping Dagmara with her homework. The stories also said that Giorgio was getting up early in the morning so he could spend a few minutes with Marlena before she went to work.

In the beginning, Giorgio missed his cats. After a while, Elio drove him to Rome to get them. But when they tried to put the cats into baskets, they ran away; so they had to leave them with Giorgio’s old neighbours. Later, Giorgio said he didn’t miss the cats anymore and he added: “They never cared. Cats don’t really care.”


- information from: Christian Science Monitor, 04.09.23 (Sophie Arie); Christian Science Monitor, 04.11.05 (Sophie Arie); Grand Rapids Press, 04.10.31 (Frances d’Amilio (AP)); Philadelphia Inquirer, 04.11.18 (Ken Dilanian, Knight-Ridder); National Post, 04.09.04 (Francine Dubé)