family

Questions I Never Asked My Grandpa

My grandfather passed away last weekend, and I’ve had quite the hard time coming to acceptance with it. He was always such a quiet man. Always deep in concentration, full of knowledge, serious in tone – until it came to sports of course. He knew everything and anything and was always willing to discuss the matters of any current game (and I mean any – soccer, football, tennis, baseball, basketball, swim, etc. – you mentioned it, he knew it). His home was my second home, and still is. As a child I spent my weekends running through the yard chasing the dogs, smashing my feet into the fallen blackberries, and then jumping into the pool, my toes covered in black. I could hear my grandpa yelling from the stoop, “damnit Alex, use the hose!”

I loved him so dearly and I was his baby. He taught me how to whistle, shuffle cards and play endless games of solitaire. Make homemade macaronis.
That’s always what he was to me. My beloved grandfather who never had much to say, loved sports, playing cards, his Sunday softball games, Italian cold cuts and pasta, and hanging with his pals at the local convenient store. And I always thought for sure that that’s who he was. And unconditionally I loved every bit of him.

When he passed, old pictures came out, stories, memories. While flipping through the box of 200 pictures he took at about age 24 during his time stationed in Germany in the 50s, I got to thinking that the man with the huge grin in those pictures wasn’t the one I ever knew. He was laughing, dancing with friends, taking in the sun at a camp on station. My grandmother gave me his uniform from war with “Absi” sewn at the pocket. The same exact shirt he was wearing in the pictures. I held that uniform so tight and all I could do was weep. I breathed it in, rubbed it against my face. It’s been sitting in the closet for nearly 50 years, but I still wanted to feel like I was feeling the man in those pictures; I was feeling my grandpa’s soul. I loved everything he was so much, but everything I knew he was for the past 20 years I was alive was not even half of what he ever was. All those times we spoke on the phone and never knew quite what to say, the silence during Family Fued. I only knew the last twenty years of his life and I let the 60 others get away. I wanted to hear his stories; what the sun felt like on his face in Germany, what his friends were like, if they still spoke, what life was like for him at my age in his time.

I’ve carried those pictures with their sweet inscriptions on the back with me everywhere since I’ve had them, and can’t let them go. Because believe it or not I feel like I’ve met a new man that I’ve never known in those pictures and their writing, and I’ve grown to love my grandpa even more than I thought I could.
But it’s too late. And my heart breaks. And losing him hurts even more now than I imagined possible. I didn’t just lose my grandpa, I lost the man in those pictures. I lost the adventure, the lifetime, and all of those silent moments while sitting next to his hospital bed to ever know what his whole life was really like.

IMG_1778

IMG_2218

IMG_2167

So if your grandparents are still around, always try and remember that they had a life before you were born. I know that that sounds so ignorant and mean to think that we as people only can think of others living in the time that they were involved in our lives, but it isn’t. And it isn’t that I, or anyone else who never knew their 15-30 year old aged grandparents lives weren’t interested, or are too busy with our own lives, it’s just sometimes, in the heat of our current society, we never think to ask, or realize to learn the history that is within the people in our very own homes. So don’t ever forget to ask them. Their wisdom and experiences can warm your soul.

Now granpy, I know you aren’t technologically savvy, and you haven’t used a computer in most likely 5 years, but here are my questions for you (I’ll read them out loud – maybe you will hear me from heaven):

-What meal that your mom/dad cooked when you were a kid was your favorite?
-What was the neighborhood like when you first built the house?
-I love the 50s. What was your favorite song from then?
-Did you play baseball in high school?
-Why did you join the army?
-What’s your favorite memory from your time enlisted?
-I’ve seen all of your beautiful pictures. Did you want to be a photographer?
-How was Germany? What was it like after Hitler?
-Did you ever think about leaving RI?
-Who taught you how to whistle?
-What kind of car did you drive in the 50s?
-you lived in the time of Audrey Hepburn, JFK and Marilyn Monroe. What did you think of them?
-What smell reminds you of home?
-what’s your favorite memory?

I know you can’t answer me, but just know that I wanted to know.

And lastly granps,
I love you more than you ever knew. You were a fighter.

IMG_2166

Xo
A

Advertisements

Why a 5 Year Old is the Best Friend I’ll Ever Have

My baby sister turned 5 on Monday and it hit me pretty hard. I remember holding her in my arms in the hospital not too long ago, during my awkward high school years with the grungy black makeup smothering my eyes. Those pictures feel like yesterday. I know it’s silly to say that a five year old is my best friend, but it’s the absolute truth.

While I was visiting for her birthday weekend, I had a dream that our little dog Mojo broke his arm and I told her about it and we laughed. The next night while I was laying in bed I was sobbing. She’s my baby, she’s so big, and I have to leave her in the morning to go back to a boring place where she isn’t in my bed every morning. She had no idea why I was crying but she said to me “Is it because you dreamt Mojo hurt his leg? And he’s old and will probably die soon?” I nodded yes. She cradled my head in her arms and kissed my cheeks.

“It’s okay. That dream wasn’t real he’s okay. Don’t cry. I’m going to be sad when he dies too, he is old, but it’ll be okay. When  he dies we’ll all be able to hold him without him biting so that will be good.”

(he’s a chihuahua he’s pretty feisty sometimes and doesn’t like to be held LOL)

But as I sat there crying, depressed, confused with my life, she held me and told me all the good things about Mojo, how it will be ok when he dies, and not to be sad. I stopped crying and I laughed. She looked me in the eyes, “We’ll carry him to heaven. He will be happy.”

She mended and broke my heart all at once.

She does makeup with me, we drive around town looking for punch buggies when we’re bored. I take her out for coffees, she always tells me I’m beautiful, which of my underwear are her favorite, and is always begging me to ‘smuggle’ her and watch Grease, my favorite movie (and now hers). And we can never forget the popcorn, Doritos and Ben & Jerry’s (all of our favorite snacks). We dance around the kitchen to Grease Lightening, shake our tushies to Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk, and bake vanilla cakes (both of our favorites).

How could anyone have a better friend than that?

And I can’t say it’ll all be the same as she grows older. I’ll hold onto her as tight as I can but she might want to let go, go shopping with her friends, meet boys at the movies, and be 16 and only talk to her 32 year old sister when she gets the annoying calls once a week, but regardless of how she grows she’s my baby. She’s my best friend. And I will never let her go.

10371929_717626824950498_3461103397963373126_n 10882385_838483199531526_8367183113778018658_n 10888568_838483782864801_8458126871857128987_n 10891893_845822902130889_4908649813225945309_n 10373760_717620398284474_3100545084753613595_n 10626536_763971493649364_7544563102676820364_n 10305435_717622338284280_4924598406824347285_n

Happy birthday my babe. You’re the light of my life.

xo, your sister and forever best friend, Al.