Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Christmas

My uncle's memorial service was yesterday.  He's gone and everything has changed.  It's hard to accept so I keep focused on other things.  The Holidays and other personal events have kept my mind occupied.  When all is quiet though the sadness creeps it's way back in.  My throat is sore from the lump in it. 

My Grandmother, whose name was Filomena, and Grandfather or Pop Pop, named Joseph, had two children.  My mom and my Uncle Francis.  My uncle couldn't say Antoinette growing up so he just called her Sister.  It stuck and now my aunt and all four cousins call her sister too.  Luke calls Ava sister.  I like that.

My mom and Uncle Fran grew up in New York City until the ages of nine and six when my Pop Pop moved the family to Long Island. Their entire family lived in New York City, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and I learned yesterday that the fact that my Grandfather moved my Grandma and the kids all the way to Plainview, really pissed my Grandma's mother off. 

My Pop Pop was a kind-hearted gentleman and he made sure that he picked my Grandma's mother up every Friday night and returned her back home to the city every Sunday so she could come out to Long Island each weekend to spend time with her daughter and grandchildren.  My great-grandma refused to talk to him during those long car rides.  Not a word in either direction.  I learned that this went on for a long, long time but it never stopped my Grandfather from picking her up.  That was just the kind of guy he was.

My uncle was not the kind of guy who would stand for that but his heart was big all the same.  He'd do anything for his family and his friends. He was loved.  He was very successful and highly respected within his industry and many of his colleagues spoke at his service yesterday.   My uncle was a real jokester so it was really fun to hear about his escapades.  I remember one Christmas when I was a little girl, Uncle Fran picked out an archery set for my cousin Francis and then hand-painted a t-shirt with a bulls eye on it for my cousin Sal.  His friends shared many similar stories yesterday, and I enjoyed hearing them all.

I had never been to a memorial service before.  Been to plenty of wakes and funerals but never seen it done this way before and it was a true celebration of him and his life.  He was loved very much by so many and it was nice to hear the stories his friends and my cousins and his grandchildren shared about him.

Christmas is in a couple days and my aunt and cousins and their families will all be at my parents house to celebrate and it's all because of him.  Christmas is a big deal in our family and being Italian, Christmas Eve is just huge.  We go all out with all of the pasta and the fish sauces.  It's so much fun.  I love our traditions.  It was very important to him that the family be together at Christmas time and right before he even found out he was sick, he bought plane tickets for my cousins and their families to fly to the East coast so we could all be together at my parents house this year.  I'm grateful to him to be able to spend this Christmas with my aunt and my cousins and their families because I love them all so much.   The greatest gift we'll get this year are the memories we'll make as a family, all because of him.  Thank you Uncle Francis. Nothing will ever be the same without him though and the thought of never seeing him again, makes me incredibly sad.

There are so many thoughts swirling in my head.  So much I wanted to write.  We just went to this yearly celebration at Ava's school called Kuumba Day. Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah), is the 6th principle of Kwanzaa; Creativity, To do as much as we can to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it. A couple of the Kindergarten moms are very talented musicians and they came up with the idea of adding a drum circle to the festivities.  My friend was excited to find out how well their concept for the drum circle was received and to learn the school was going to incorporate it on a yearly basis.  I thought in that moment how very cool it was that my friends idea, therefore a part of them, would remain a part of the school forever. Children attending the school, far beyond their children's years in the school, will be positively impacted and inspired by something they created.  The children will not know who was responsible for creating the drum circle, but the positive effects and the joy their creation brings, will be felt all the same.

My Uncle lives on in the recipes and techniques which inspired an industry.  He lives on in the thoughts of all of all who loved him, he lives on in our hearts. He lives on in the stories and the memories we all will share and pass on from generation to generation.

We live on in our communities. Everyone might not know our names, and we may not be easily identified in our contributions, but the fact remains that we live on in all that we touch.  In all that we share. In all that we do.  It is in the seemingly small that the greatest contributions and impacts are made. It's in the sharing of our ideas and in the support we give our community members that make a difference. It's in all that we've done to lend a helping hand, to positively impact others that make us special. 

Everyday we have the potential to touch and enhance lives we may not even be aware we are impacting.  Let's use our powers for good.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful and heartfelt post, AM. I love it. The bullseye t-shirt story had me cracking up!