Monday, August 17, 2009

Notes on the departed

I visited all of you yesterday. None of you spoke, not aloud anyway.

Dad (1999)
I still can’t believe it’s been 10 years. One of the ways I describe you to people who never had the good fortune to meet you: Sure, he was short, but he was the tallest man I’ve ever known.
You taught by example. You were dedicated to your faith, to your family, to your career. You loved your friends. You were kind to a fault. You and Mom were an example that love born in childhood can last. You taught me how to play pool well enough to beat the guys and, bless you, tried to teach me how to do math. You sang and danced – and it didn’t matter to you that you were terrible at both.
Your last three words to me weren’t exactly words, more like three guttural sounds. I understood, Dad. And I love you, too.

Grandma and Grandpa P. (1998 and 1999)
Grandma: I took you up on your offer when I was 16. You asked the grandkids each year, and I was the first to say yes. And so we found ourselves on a plane headed for Rome, then Palermo, then your hometown of Villafrati, Sicily. We stayed with your nephew, next door to the house where you were born. We went to the church where you had been baptized. I celebrated my 17th birthday at a family wedding. It was unforgettable. But, grandma, what I will remember most about you is your kitchen table -- the hours we spent at that table playing cards. And I’m happy to report we still pull the equipment you used out of a box each year to make ravioli. It’s a tradition I hope never dies.
Grandpa: I remember taking walks with you as a kid. Without me knowing, you’d reach into your pocket, grab a quarter and throw it on the sidewalk just in front of us. I never wondered why I only found quarters while I was on walks with you. And you’d show up just about every afternoon (and on Sunday mornings) to roll the papers for our paper route. If we weren’t feeling well, you’d deliver them, too. And in the dead of winter, you’d follow us along the route in your Cadillac, giving us a place to warm up when we got too cold. You were a man of few words. But you didn’t need to say much. Your actions said it all.

Grandma O. and Aunt Pat (2005 and 2007)
Grandma: You were my other card-playing partner when I was a kid. I used to look forward to going to your apartment, walking up that spiral staircase, sitting at your dining room table and settling in for an afternoon of playing cards. I never thought about it when I was a kid, but I was one of 17 grandchildren. When we were together, you always made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. The angel figurine you gave me when I moved to D.C. continues to watch over me.
Aunt Pat: When you did something, you didn’t believe in doing it halfway. You cooked dinners that could feed armies. When you bluffed playing poker, you bluffed big. And when you laughed … God, there was such joy in your laugh. And even though we are not a family known for our singing ability (to put it nicely), when it was time to sing Christmas carols, you always demanded to hear us do “O Holy Night” just one more time. You treasured your family, and you were a big part of what kept us all together. I hate to see that end.

I love you all.


col said...

Thanks for helping me start the day with a good cry.

Joe said...

Such a lovely tribute.

Duffy said...

This is awesome.

Katie said...

Kathleen can you adopt me? I want to join your family and be loved by them. I don't know how I didn't see this when you first wrote it...