I so very much wanted to put this particular sentiment down in verse, but I know in my heart that I could not do it justice. There is just too much to say and too many emotions to be contained in a few simple lines.
I was chatting with a dear friend just the other night when the subject of her grandfather came up. We discussed her favorite memories of him and how they would have their “special days” together and how there were just so many fond memories that she had of him. When that all wound down, I started telling her of some memories I had of my grandfather and this is one of them.
I have to begin by explaining that my grandfather was born and raised in the “old country”… back in the province of Avellino it Italy. He worked hard every single day of his life. Back in the 50’s he brought his family over to the U.S. on an ocean liner like so many other families had done. No small undertaking to uproot and find a new life in a new world.
From as far back as I can remember growing up, my visions of grandpa were either working the soil in the garden or cleaning up around the house and yard with a broom in his hand. The idea of “play” was one that was foreign to him. He would get frustrated when my brothers and I would play baseball or hockey out in front of the garage when there was work to be done.
I can laugh NOW, but there were far too many occasions when my brothers and I would go out to play and couldn’t for the life of us find out hockey sticks… at least not until we took a look out in the garden. There they were, blades surgically removed with a hack saw, with tomato vines tied to them!!!
Grandpa was always the stern disciplinarian… always serious… always ALL business… or so we thought.
One summer, my grandmother’s brother came to visit from Argentina. He was the complete antithesis of my grandfather. Always smiling and joking around with a real zest for life. He was with us for a couple of weeks and we thoroughly enjoyed his company.
The last Sunday that he was with us, we had the whole family to my grandparents’ place for Sunday dinner. When I say WHOLE FAMILY and SUNDAY DINNER… you need to remember that we are an old school Italian family so that means a 14 course meal starting at 2 in the afternoon and there were probably 30 of us in the basement around a group of tables that would rival a banquet hall.
After dinner, we had dessert and coffee, played some cards, and the story telling would begin. We heard about their struggles during the war back in Italy and then… GLORIOUSLY… we heard about their little adventures wandering the Italian countryside in the evenings. They would go from small town to small town like wandering minstrels serenading the local women.
Needless to say, we all took THAT with a grain of salt… at least at first. Then in a most unexpected of moments “Zio Ninnucio” began to sing… not just murmurring under his breath, I mean BELTING IT OUT. And then… the miraculous… Grandpa joined in on the serenade. We were all left completely speechless.
The two of them sang for quite some time and not just singing simple songs. Hearing my grandfather singing harmonies still makes me smile while at the same time bringing a tear of joy to my eye. So you see, you never really know anyone completely… but if you are really lucky and really blessed, you may just get a glimpse into the soul of someone you get to see every day.
May you find your own memories as precious as mine of grandpa’s serenade.