Good morning every one. Seems as though it will be a pretty fine day even though it has turned a bit colder. The sun is shining and the birds are twittering away outside!
Today's blog is a tribute to my Grandfather Joe. As I sat here this morning and glanced at the date, it reminded me that today is the day that my Grandfather passed away. Now that was a story and really quite a man.
I grew up with my grandparents along with my mother. She was divorced and living with them....and therefore...so was I. My grandfather was really the only man I had in my life. And he was quite the interactive Grandfather..in fact, I attribute my learning habits and love of learning from him.
You see, growing up, my grandfather was in law school and had to leave because his father had passed away at the young age of 42 from stomach cancer. His parents owned a small mom and pop type grocery store in the city of Chicago near North and Clark. He left school to come home to help his mother run the store. Now eventually he got married, had some children and then his wife died and he remarried and had 3 additional children with my grandmother. Now here he was, many years later, helping to raise me.
Grandpa put a high value on education...more than likely because his was stripped away so briskly. I can remember him calling me in the house for studies...even during the summer vacation. One hour a day was spent on studies. Even before I started kindergarten, we studied. He not only taught me to print, but he also had me writing before I started school. I, in fact, got in trouble when I started school because the nuns wanted me to print and I thought it was dumb because I already knew how to write cursive. Not the smartest thing to tell the nuns...let me tell you! Handwriting was important to him...I was graded daily on it..as well as math. We worked on math constantly. He always told me that math was the cornerstone to everything in life. Funny how later in life, I became a math major...any wonder???
Well, Grandpa spent hours with me and encouraged me in everything I did. Aside from studies, this marvelous grandfather played every game imaginable with me. From Barbie and Ken to board games. He played imaginary games with me, encouraged my coloring and drawing and especially my singing.
When Grandpa Joe became sick with Prostate Cancer. Things went downhill at one point. I can remember sitting in the living room with him. He sat in his big green armchair while I was cradle at his feet with my head on his knees. In those last days at home, he just seemed to stare out into space. He stroked my blond hair and asked me to sing him his favorite song of Ave Maria. I sang it for him and as he sat there with tears welling up in his blue/gray eyes, you would have thought that the angels from heaven were there in the room with us. Thinking about it later...perhaps they were. Soon after, I remember them coming for him with an ambulance and Grandpa went to the hospital.
In those days, children weren't allowed to go to visit anyone in the cancer ward...I am not sure why that was, but those were the rules. I hated that I wasn't able to be there with him...each day I would ask my mother if I could go and the answer was always no.
Then on April 23rd, 1967, I was in a procession at church for the pastor's anniversary. I was in a long yellow satin gown with daisies stitched on, and wore a fur stole. I had come home from the church and was told that after lunch that day, I was going to get to go to the hospital to see Grandpa with my mother. I was ecstatic. We ate our usual Sunday lunch of Smoked Butt, mashed potatoes and cream corn and biscuits and just started doing the dishes when the telephone rang. My mom was on the phone and the next thing I knew, she grabbed her purse and keys and left....without me! I was devastated and confused. I had no idea what was going on and neither did my older cousin and grandmother who I was left with. We waited for what we thought was forever when the phone rang at 3:00 in the afternoon. It was my Aunt telling us that Grandpa had passed away. I couldn't believe it! He should have waited for me....that wasn't fair...I wanted to say goodbye...and when I looked out the window...just at that moment, it started to snow. In my mind...that was Grandpa's way of saying goodbye. the snow only lasted a couple of minutes and then stopped. Was it just a coincidence? Well, only God knows....but I sure like to think that Grandpa and I were so close that he wouldn't leave me with out leaving me something special...and he did. I will remember that day all of my life. This was a special man to me. A man who did everything he could to raise a child who definitely needed a man in her life. I am sorry that it was such a short time...but what amazing gifts he left me with. I contribute my love and thirst for knowledge to him. I push myself to extreme lengths because of him and appreciate the smallest gestures made and try to do the same to my grandchildren whenever I can. Grandpa Joe...if you are listening today...rest in peace until we are together again and I can once again sing with the angels...Ave Maria.