An incredible man died on 12/22/15. He lived almost 87 years. Really lived them. From watching him, we all appreciated his integrity and loyalty. From living with his son for 60% of my life, who learned about family from the man (how to be a dad and how to love your wife), I know how lucky I was to find this big Italian family and raise my own within it.
Here is the thing: his own father died when he was 9. When he was in 4th grade, still a little boy, he lost his dad. How does a man learn to father without a father? He learned from his mother, a woman who came to America on a boat with two sons, 3 and 5. He remembered his mother when we brought him an Italian lemon cookie called a genet a few weeks ago. We make these cookies from her recipes for the holidays. Apparently we’re making them right. He liked them.
The man fought to live. The males in his genetic line don’t live long. For them, living more than five decades is impressive. He set a record at almost 87. To do so, he had coronary bypass surgery almost 30 years ago, and was told he’d get about a decade out of it. We’ve been going home for holidays because it might be dad’s last for-freaking-ever. Without that surgery, he’d have missed knowing all but three of his grandchildren.
The grandchildren will remember Grandpa laughing. From a big Italian family (2 sisters, 4 brothers), he produced another big Italian family: 3 daughters, 4 sons, 6 granddaughters, 8 grandsons, 2 great-granddaughters, and 1 great-grandson. All with the same 1 wife.
Here’s a little list of advice that sums up the man we lost:
Pet the dog (tolerate the cats)
Do the jumble
Offer everyone a drink
Eat meatballs (but never chicken)
Fear only God (and nuns)
Sing a song all the time
Take a walk
Say “Is that so?” to keep people talking, let them know you’re listening, but make them think about what’s coming out of their face
Say “What a waste” when something isn’t right
Carefully interpret the seventy-three intonations of “Honey” and respond appropriately
Love your wife