My dear great grandson..
June 19, 2014, 7:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My grandfather died a few weeks ago, at 91. He had been ill with bile duct cancer for about 18 months, living much longer than anyone expected. Last year, after Lee was born, he wrote him a letter. I was asked to speak at his funeral, and I had something trite and meaningless prepared. Then my cousin gave me this letter, that he had given to her to give to Lee. I decided to read it instead.

“My dear great grandson,

To begin with, my grandfather came to the United States about 1876. My father was born in 1895. I was born in March of 1923, which makes me 90. Your grandmother was born June 10, 1953 and your mother was born 4/13/86. That’s your whole ancestry as far as I know.

A few words of advice – never take yourself too seriously. I hope that you can find your talent(s) whatever they may be real early in life! Some people never find a talent. When I was six, I found that I had a natural talent for sculpting. I have pursued this hobby for all of my life. Another interest that I have is music. I was tenor soloist in my church choir for many years. This just might be your talent considering your Italian background. All  Italians have music ingrained in their soul. It would not be too surprising if this is also true in you.

Learn to read – early and well. Books, all kinds of books will be a treasure almost without measure.

Honor and love your parents – always and without question. They will be your guideposts all your life. Both of your parents are kind, hard-working and intelligent.

I don’t mean to be repeating myself but don’t take yourself too seriously. But above all have a sense of humor. So many people lack this in their makeup! I enjoy jokes, cartoons, funny stories, and T.V. comedians. We are the only animals on earth that God endowed with a sense of humor.

Follow your dream. All my life airplanes fascinated me. My mother seemed to be afraid of her own shadow- I never learned to roller skate because she thought that this was too dangerous! But I finally did learn to fly! July 16, 1969. What she didn’t know didn’t hurt her.

In closing, may I wish you much happiness, success in all you undertake, a long life and good health always.

With love sincerely!


It is worth noting that he wrote this, by hand, despite being almost entirely blind.

He was also too weak to get out of bed or care for himself.

But even to the very end, his mind was sharp.

The bits about his talents are true. I have some of his sculptures that he made for me. A dachshund like the one I had as a child, and a bas relief sculpture of the front of the dollhouse he and my grandmother made for me when I was 4. He had a beautiful voice, operatic. He would sing while mowing the lawn on their riding lawn mower and you could hear the Italian opera in the house, over the sound of the mower.

And I will always treasure the fact that the three adjectives he chose to describe Kevin and I are “kind, hardworking and intelligent”.