I hope you have all been enjoying your holidays. Christmas is such a special time, and I love being able to spend that time of year with both Bob and my families.
When I was home my Papa, my Dad’s father, was put into the hospital. He suffered a mini stroke and heart attack about two months ago and had been in and out of the hospital ever since. He had started to show signs of getting better, and then it happened- he got worse. We watched helplessly and prayed for two days, spending the good majority of our time with him in the hospital. He passed peacefully in his sleep, on the 28th at the age of 91. He would have been 92 next month, he truly lived so much more than many get to in their whole lives.
He was born in Iowa to Sicilian immigrants and was one of five children. His father owned a coal mine, and died at a young age leaving him to be a young patriarch. He served in World War II and advanced to become a master sergeant. When he finally returned home from the service he entered into pharmacy school before opening his own store in an Italian neighborhood in Chicago. He married a fellow small town transplant, and had three children together. He leaves behind my Nana, who he loved in good times and in bad to for 59 years. They had 5 grandchildren and played such a great role in forming our young minds.
I had the privilege of being their oldest grand daughter, and my cousin Jamie followed a few years after I was born. Jame and I spent countless days and nights at my grandparents where we were taught “The Italian way” by Papa. My first memories include him teaching me how to “twirl spaghetti like a real Italian” and how to make homemade meatballs and grow grapes. He made the best air popped popcorn I’d ever tasted, and I only just perfected it about a year ago. It was as if he used the precision he used as a pharmacist to create a chemical reaction of the perfect amount of butter and salt. I was so proud when I was able to share with him that I’d mastered his special treat.
When my Papa found out Bob and I are having our wedding in a barn he was astonished. “You’re paying MONEY to have a wedding in a BARN?”
“Yes, it’s just meant for weddings though, Papa,” I tried to explain.
“Are there going to be animals in this barn?” He then questioned.
I know he will be there with his dancing shoes on either way, and I am so grateful he got to meet and love Bob. One of my final times with him he was having a hard time remembering things, and I asked him if he knew who my fiancé was. His eyes popped open and he stated rather matter of fact, “Robert”.
He had such a zest for everything and so much passion for his family. He always pointed out how I was the only grandchild who looked Italian, and I will always treasure that. I hope to carry out so many of the special things he did for us. His entrepreneurship, his passion, his ability to love so deeply and care so much. This week we have his wake and funeral, where I hope to cling to the ones I love and celebrate the life of one of my greatest heroes.