In Memoriam

Just recently, my Grandfather passed away.  He lived a long, healthy and complete life from today’s standards and died at the age of 96.  I was privileged with giving the eulogy at his funeral.  I wanted to share a version of the eulogy with you in the hope it will inspire you in some way, and pay forward the inspiration I had to write this post.

My Grandfather’s funeral was a celebration of life for all of us that knew him, and recognition of how to continue his legacy for generations to come.

My grandfather was born in 1920. He was one of 5 brothers and sisters.  He was married to his wife for almost 70 years. Together, they had 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.

He was 96 years old when he passed.  For my brothers and sister, my Grandfather was our last grandparent, so this marks the end of a generation of us.

He came over to the US when he was 13 – in 1933.  It’s hard to relate to those dates any longer. But the stories our grandparents tell help us understand just how fortunate we are in many ways.  Here are a couple of simple stories to help us relate –

I remember grandpa telling us the story of when he first came to the states, he fell off the back of a pick-up truck and hit the back of his head.  He said he had a headache for over a year afterwards.  In today’s language, I can only assume he had a concussion that wasn’t dealt with properly!

I also remember a story he told us about a new pair of shoes he received when he was a kid in Italy.  He had gotten the shoes wet, and placed the shoes by the fireplace to dry them out.  The next morning he woke up to find he had placed the shoes too close to the fire and the shoes were burnt up.  He knew better than to ask for a new pair.  So he wore his old shoes until they could afford to buy a new pair.

My Grandfather came from very simple means, but through determination and sacrifice was able to create a significant legacy for his family.

He started an Italian restaurant in the 1950’s with his brother.  He helped my Dad in starting his own restaurant.  His generosity helped many friends and family along the way.

He loved golf – He would take us to Christmas dinners at the country club he belonged to, and he’d always ask if we were going to get the lamb dish…. You have to try the mint jelly with the lamb – oohhh – delicious!

He loved gardening – He had some of the best fig plants I could remember.  When his garden was in full swing, the plants grew so tall, he would disappear inside his garden! (Short little Italian guy J )

He loved Bocce – I remember his nephews always trying to get my Grandfather to play “Morra” (Italian Numbers game).

He loved Tigers Baseball – He knew how much I loved baseball, and I was lucky enough to go with him, my uncle and my Dad to game 3 of the World Series at Tiger Stadium in 1984.  There we saw Allen Trammel hit back to back home runs.  It was an incredible moment in history.  Seeing my Grandfather react to that game was truly priceless.

He had a shrewd eye for business and investments.  He was a good judge of character when partnering with people.  He always gave honest feedback – bluntly at times, but he always, always meant well.

Whenever we would spend time together, we would have frequent discussions around careers and the stock market. He would always tell us – “you’ve got to sacrifice!”

He would tell us, in the early restaurant days he would work so many hours that he would come home and cry and weep.  But, he had a great passion for the restaurant and the customers he served. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to sustain as long as he did.

Grandpa was very proud of the fact that he was able to provide a good life for his children. Beyond that, I’m sure he would love to know that we continued his legacy for generations to come while nurturin

g the relations he started, and being the best people we could be along the way.

One thing that stuck with me all of these years – he would say this with such conviction – if you are a good person, never take advantage and always be respectful of people – and you truly have faith within your heart, life will repay you more than you can imagine.

So, this really is a celebration of a life well lived.  We should all be so fortunate.  For our family, we must build on our Grandparent’s strengths, put away any reservations we have, and put forward an honest effort to become the reflection deserving of their legacy before us.  I thank you for being here and sharing in this memory of my Grandfather.

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